The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30pm.’ A childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to terrify poor Letitia Blacklock?
Thus begins a subtly humorous and mind-bending tale. In a partial third-person narrative that allows one to follow Miss Marple’s thought process, she develops a small pool of likable characters that one can keep track of—but never really trust. Money is usually at stake and contributes to a motive, no matter how convoluted the murderous plan is. Christie throws out red herrings galore and keeps you on your toes as you try to fit together the random jig saw piece clues handed to you. Of course, the elderly but perspicacious Miss Marple is on to things fairly early—even with the fake identities—but not I. Christie includes myriad details that I had no idea about, making the story more and more intriguing and revealing specifics of the murder that only the most astute reader will deduce. The audio cassettes I found by chance are excellent companion. Now I’m on to watch the PBS adaptation. The Guardian Christie list doesn’t disappoint.
225 pp. Signet Mystery by Penguin. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]