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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 15 February 2016
Having seen and enjoyed the portrayal of Miss Marple by various people on TV and film over the years, I thought that I really should actually read one of the books. I chose the very first Marple book to be written by the queen of mystery.

I enjoyed the book and was fascinated by this early portrayal of Miss Marple, in which she is quite an irritating busybody rather than the delightful old lady that we are more familiar with. However, the vicar's appreciation of her grows as she solves the crime whilst everyone else, including the detective, is floundering and by the end of the book his final words are "Really Miss Marple is rather a dear....", paving the way for future stories.

On the more negative side, I was a bit disappointed in the writing style. I found the characters largely one-dimensional as the author concentrates almost entirely on the development of the plot, with its various red herrings and multitude of suspects who have good reason for wanting the murdered man out of the way.

I would call it a gentle (or perhaps genteel) book, despite the subject, with none of the amazing twists and turns that I have come to expect in detective stories. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer watching Miss Marple to reading about her and will continue to tune in to the excellent Geraldine McEwan whenever her portrayal comes on TV. I might have a go at reading Hercule now......
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This first Miss Marple mystery is deceptively gentle, with much of the story narrated by the mild mannered vicar. When he returns to the vicarage to find the body of Colonel Protheroe shot in his study, the vicar becomes involved in the murder investigation, aided by his neighbour Miss Marple. There is a wonderful list of suspects, motives and false trails along the way, until Jane Marple untangles the threads and makes everything clear.

Not only is this a masterfully plotted story, but it introduces us to St Mary Mead and a cast of characters who will become familiar friends in later books. There are surly housemaids, ne'er do well poachers, gossipy old ladies and crotchety old men in abundance. As Miss Marple is keen to point out, you can see all of life quite well in a small village and nobody understands the undercurrents of life quite like she does. Wonderful fun, well written and utterly delightful, if you have never tried this series, this first book is a great place to start.
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on 14 March 2013
This is the first Miss Marple novel that Agatha Christie wrote. It is about a quiet unassuming vicar who has married a lady 20 odd years younger than himself, has a hopeless servant, an unpredicable assistant (vicar) and just simply looks for the good in everybody and wants to enjoy a quiet life in the quiet village of St Mary Mead.

However that doesn't happen with Colonel Protheroe found dead in the Vicar's study chaos descends on the quiet village St Mary Mead, and then along comes Miss Marple who tries to sooth troubled waters by solving the crime. Various people claim to have murdered the Colonel, others just fulfill their own adgenda by other dishonest means.

A very good read. Would recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2004
This isn't the most widenly known Agatha Christie book but it is one of my favourites.
A cleverly thought out plot that is full of red herrings! I love the way Miss Marple is always figuring things out just before the police especially Inspector Slack!
Even though this is a gentle story with no big shocks or gun battles this story keeps me hooked as well as keeps me coming back to it time and time again.
It's clever enough to keep a person intrigued but not so clever that you have to really concentrate to know what is going on.
This book is a fantastic at showing how observant and how well Miss Marple knows 'human nature'. A must read for all Agatha Christie fans!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 November 2009
I love Agatha Christie and have a particular fondness for this book which, I think, is the first outing for Miss Marple. It's 1930 and someone has shot the unpleasant churchwarden, Colonel Protheroe, in the vicar's study. But is it his ethereal daughter? His wife with her own secrets? The sexy young artist? Or the organist who might have been embezzling the church funds? Not even the vicar and his ditzy young wife are immune to suspicion and we shouldn't forget the mysterious and possibly sinister stranger in the village, or the local archaeologist who appears to know less about his profession than he should...

As usual Christie keeps all her balls in the air, and here adds to the fun with a chorus of nosy old village spinsters. And she still manages to pull the rug out under our feet with clues, red herrings and a final solution which only Miss Marple can see. Wonderful stuff!
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on 19 June 2015
The first full-length Miss Marple, seen through a vicar's eyes. Too many bloop-holes to mention, but filled to the brim with the usual suspects - secret ex-wife, unloveable victim, over-loveable victim's wife, victim's wife's lover, nosey old women etc. Miss Marple is placed firmly in the nosey old women's set, but distinguishes herself admirably or unbelievably, depending on how you view the bloop-holes. Entertaining who-done-it, and worth reading, if only for the currently unfashionable notion of there being only one body.
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on 27 June 2015
Enjoyable Miss Marple novel. You have probably seen enough adaptations on TV to know the plot. It was interesting to reread and see that Agatha Christie doesn't quite paint Miss Marple as this lady that everyone underestimates, but has the narrator describing her as shrewd and disturbing in her omniscience. I am so influenced by Joan Hickson's wonderful portrayal in the TV series, it is interesting to see that this not quite how she is painted in this book at least. An enjoyable classic.
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on 16 June 2015
Colonel Protheroe is not a man who is liked in fact people wish he was dead. And when someone actually kills him at the vicarage of all places, the police are stumped even after Lawrence confesses as he couldn't possibly have done it. Step forward Miss Marple who not only solves this crime but two more on the side. She runs rings around the police who think she's just a dotty old woman.

But this woman has the mind of a bacon slicer as she compares the crimes to others she has seen. There is nothing boring in St Mary's Mead if you know where to look and the Vicar is just beginning to find out. With red herrings galore will you figure out who has shot the Colonel? Agatha has done it again with her brand new detective it's the start of a beautiful new mystery.
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It's no secret that no one in St. Mary Mead likes Colonel Protheroe. He is strict, somber, and by the numbers. But when the vicar returns home late for a meeting, he's surprised to find Colonel Protheroe shot through the head. The local police are called in and two people confess. Yet something doesn't seem quite right. Fortunately, Miss Marple lives next door. With her sharp mind talent for learning gossip, she just might make sense of everything that's happening.
Ok, I confess. I love a good cozy mystery but have yet to read much Christie. I can tell I need to change that. This book had me confused from the get go. There were so many red herrings it was hard to tell what was really happening. Yet it all came together at the end in a logical conclusion.
Agatha Christie is a class mystery writer for a reason. Anyone who loves a good puzzle with a surprising conclusion will love this book.
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on 3 October 2011
Miss Marple has spent years observing people in her village Saint Mary Mead and this makes her a great amateur detective. It comes in useful when Colonel Prothero, an unpopular resident of the village is found shot dead at the vicarage by the vicar.

Next door to the vicarage lives Jane Marple who was working in her back garden when the murder took place. The vicar, Len Clement starts to look into the case and keeps Miss Maple updated on what he discovers.

This is a well written murder mystery. It introduces a lot of characters who live in the village and there are several red herrings to keep you guessing who the murderer is.

The book was published in 1930 and it does show its age. It describes village life where everyone knows each other and some have servants, which is not the case in most parts of the country now.

Although the story is dated I enjoyed reading the book. Miss Marple is a great character and it is interesting to read how she links the clues to human nature in order to unveil the murderer.
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