Updated review September 13, 2022: Wow. I always say this one really does hit all the feels, at least it did for me on why and how I became such a fan of Miss Marple. This book nicely sets the stage for a murder and then Miss Marple comes in after meeting inspector Craddock at a lunch with Sir Henry Clithering. Miss Marple just knows something is off about the whole set up a party being announced and a man is then murdered after attempting to murder the hostess. The book is so tragic in so many ways. At times I feel sorry for the murderer and then other times I despise them.
What a great look at the Miss Marple series. This one has an interesting cast of characters, Miss Marple showing everyone up, and references to characters that many in the series should know by now, such as Sir Henry Clithering. Due to Miss Marple’s connection to Sir Henry and just being around the area, she gets pulled in to investigate when a supposed murder party goes wrong and then two more people die afterwards.
The book begins when residents of Chipping Cleghorn read about an announcement for murder in their local newspaper. It gives the time (6:30) and place (Little Paddocks) on October 29. The owner of Little Paddocks (Letitia Blacklock) knows nothing of this until relatives of her that are staying on at her home bring it up. With Ms. Blacklock realizing that the announcement means the whole village (or there about) are going to descend on her home, she decides to make preparations.
I have to say that due to the characters that Agatha Christie has in this one you have no idea who could be behind things until the end. Once that happens, you will do what I did the first time I read this book, you will go back to certain places in the book and you will realize how Christie pointed out several things to you that you may have not realized the first time through. I will say that I hate that the e-book version shows the most frequently highlighted passages. That can give you a clue as a new reader but it also can spoil things for you. Turn that off if you can and just read the book fresh.
Miss Marple was on top of her game for this one (IMHO) and I loved how she was welcomed by the local police and used her great powers of deduction to figure this one out. It was great to read about how Sir Henry called her one of the best detectives he ever met.
I also really enjoyed the character of Bunch (she reminds me of a scattier version of Dolly Bantry. Also the character of Inspector Craddock was great. He could have been a naysayer to Miss Marple. But he quickly takes her on board as a colleague of sorts and I would love to see this one re-done with the younger Inspector learning the ropes from Miss Marple. Heck, I can see a kick butt spin-off as a BBC adaption.
The setting of Little Paddocks as well as the whole village feels a bit like a village that time forgot. This was written in the 1950s, but I think the book is supposed to take place after World War II, but for some weird reason, it reads as if it was during the war due to people making a note of bartering, only being allowed to have so much coal, etc. I didn’t know that England was still under rules such as that in the 1950s. I am sure one of you will let me know about that in the comments.
What I get a kick out of in this one is that Christie explores the same themes in this one (no telling) in several of her other works. I just think she did a much better job of them in this story.