A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

3rd January 2021.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Miss Marple series in the order they were written. Alongside the deft characterisation, wry social comments, ingenious plots and Agatha’s Christie’s effortless writing style, you get to see the author and Miss Marple develop.

The story starts with an ad in the local newspaper, announcing the date, time and place of a murder. Naturally, the locals are intrigued and find excuses to visit the house, where the occupants, equally mystified and intrigued, are ready to welcome them. At the allotted time, the lights go out and three shots are fired soon after. When the lights are restored, a stranger in a mask lies dead on the floor.

It doesn’t take long to identify the stranger and come up with possible motives for what happened. Was it a prank gone wrong, an accident or something more sinister? Fortunately for the police, Miss Marple isn’t far away and soon starts piecing everything together.

The book follows Inspector Craddock’s investigation. He soon discovers that almost everyone at the house at the time of the shooting has a motive for murder. This creates plenty of red herrings, false trails and dead ends to keep the mystery bubbling along nicely until Miss Marple figures it all out.

When she reveals the murderer and motive, you realise all the clues were there in plain sight as the story was told. And as you would expect from an author at the top of her game, there are no loose ends or plot holes to be seen.

If you accept the attitudes and values that were prevalent in 1950, this is another brilliant, entertaining and clever whodunit that’s a pleasure to read and contemplate afterwards.

Description

A mystery that will defy even the most ingenious of detectives because, when you turn over a stone in an English village, you have no idea what will crawl out…

‘I’m not too late, am I? When does the murder begin?’

An announcement appears in the local paper: this Friday, at exactly 6.30pm, a murder will take place.

Who could resist such an invitation?

Driven by morbid curiosity, the villagers head to the appointed location: a quiet house on the outskirts of the village.

The crowd gathers. The clock counts down. And then the lights go out.

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

23rd December 2020.

Every time I read one of Agatha Christie’s books, I’m impressed by her direct, easy-to-read style that draws you into the heart of the story from the first page. Language and values aside, her writing feels modern, with plenty of dialogue, the minimum amount of description, and succinct characterisation. In short, she transports you into her world with the minimum of effort.

The Moving Finger is no different. It starts with injured pilot Jerry Burton and his sister Joanne moving to the quiet village of Lymstock, where someone’s sending out poison pen letters. It isn’t long before Mrs Symington, wife of the local solicitor, takes her own life after receiving one of the letters.

With a wide cast of suspects, Jerry Burton tries to identify the letter writer. Then Rose, a maid in the Symington household, is brutally murdered, and the whole atmosphere changes as the police investigate.

The story builds slowly, using the different reactions of the recipients of the letters to build suspense and suspicion. Jerry Burton, who narrates the story, is a capable lead who’s soon out of his depth as he struggles to identify the person responsible. When Rose dies, it’s time to call in Jane Marple.

I’m not sure why Agatha Christie waited until the final quarter of the book to bring in Miss Marple, but her impact is immediate. She swings into action to connect all the clues, solve the murders and restore calm and justice to Lymstock in an exciting climax.

With a fine cast of suspects, red herrings, misunderstandings, and the author’s humour and social commentary, this is a classic whodunit that’s as clever as it is baffling and complex. An enjoyable and memorable read, the novel reveals why the author remains so popular.

It’s simply a treat from start to finish.

Description

The placid village of Lymstock seems the perfect place for Jerry Burton to recuperate from his accident under the care of his sister, Joanna. But soon a series of vicious poison-pen letters destroys the village’s quiet charm, eventually causing one recipient to commit suicide. The vicar, the doctor, the servants—all are on the verge of accusing one another when help arrives from an unexpected quarter. The vicar’s house guest happens to be none other than Jane Marple.

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

2nd December 2020.

There’s so much to enjoy and admire about Agatha Christie’s writing. It goes without saying that her plots are intricate, complex and beautifully constructed, so much so that techniques she used in the 1930s and 40s are still being used in today’s murder mysteries.

If you accept that attitudes and language were quite different in 1942, you can appreciate her direct style of writing that hasn’t lost any of its appeal over the decades. With minimal description and digression, she delivers the twists and turns of the plot with skill, deftness and confidence, leading the reader astray with red herrings and enough suspects to satisfy the stingiest critic. Add in sharp characterisation, lots of dialogue, and social comment that will raise a few smiles, and this is a superb whodunit that will keep you guessing until the reveal.

Miss Marple isn’t the fluffy character you see in some TV adaptations. She has a backbone of steel, an incisive mind and a sharp tongue. Where the police and the village see scandal when a young woman is found dead in the library of Colonel and Dolly Bantry, Miss Marple sees a puzzle with no obvious explanation.

While the police follow their own investigations, she seizes on the small clues, the little details they don’t fully appreciate, weaving it all together into an excellent and believable climax.

Agatha Christie’s books never fail to entertain me or inspire me as a mystery murder writer.

Highly recommended.

Description

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.

But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?

The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery… before tongues start to wag.

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

He weaves a mystery that can match any of our best thriller writers

In another wonderful review for No Love Lost, Colin Garrow says

Robert Crouch manages to create a delightfully complex plot with twists and turns galore and more suspects than you can shake a doggy snack at. The plot is his best yet and kept me enthralled from start to finish. With a writing style that includes witty one-liners and precise plotting, he weaves a mystery that can match any of our best thriller writers.

 

 

Such a brilliant series, so well written

In her review of No Love Lost, Lesley from The Bookwormery says

Kent is a marvellously complex, likeable character with an engaging humour and slight eccentricity about him. The plot has twists, turns and some shocks and heartbreaking moments too. It really has it all. Such a brilliant series, so well written it is completely engrossing from start to finish.

No Love Lost Launch

The plot is absolutely fantastic

In her review of No Love Lost, Chelle from Curled Up With A Good Book says,

Each time I read a new Kent Fisher mystery I think it’s my favourite, and then the next one trumps it! I love the series so much, adore Kent (the complex character that he is) and the other characters, love the mystery and intrigue and enjoy the writing style so much.

No Love Lost Launch

An addictive mystery series

Yvonne at Me and My Books believes No Love Lost is part of an addictive mystery series. Brilliant from start to finish.

The author really has woven a wonderful tale of mystery, revenge, deceit and also a tragedy. It was a brilliant book and I think it may be my favourite so far and also the one that shocked me the most with events. It draws things from the past and the present and they have been twisted and turned into such an addictive read.

No Love Lost Launch

A cracking television series

Karen Cole of Hair Past A Freckle believes the Kent Fisher mysteries would make a cracking television series.

The superb characterisation, evocative landscape descriptions and the witty dialogue all perfectly complement the intriguing cases that Kent attempts to solve – and as always, Columbo the Westie steals every scene he is in!

No Love Lost is the most emotionally affecting story so far.

No Love Lost Launch

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

15th September 2020.   5 stars.

This is the first novel to feature Miss Marple. In her first appearance, she’s described as a bit of a busybody, who’s always right in her assessment of any situation. The vicar, who relates the story, isn’t too kind in his opinion of her, but he slowly grows to realise she sees what most people miss.

While some of the attitudes are of their time in the 1930s, the story is written in a direct style that feels fresh and perfectly at home in today’s world. As you’d expect from the author, the plot is complex and clever, with plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep you guessing. The touches of humour lighten the story where needed as the cunning plot is slowly unravelled.

The characterisation is first rate, especially Inspector Slack, who’s like a rude, overbearing whirlwind, dismissive of Miss Marple in the first instance. Her knowledge and understanding of people is drawn from parallels within the village of St Mary Mead. Naturally Slack doesn’t have the time or patience to listen to the tales she relates to make her points.

While Miss Marple plays only a modest role, her short, incisive appearances reveal the determined and uncompromising sleuth she will become.

If you’ve never read Agatha Christie or Miss Marple, this is the perfect introduction and a delight from start to finish.

Description

‘Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a service!’

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity.

The Murder at the Vicarage