Agatha Christie 100 - A Murder Is Announced

It took a while before Miss Marple actually became Christie's second great problem solver. This was written in 1950 and is only the fourth Marple novel. The following decades would more than double that number.

Local newspaper the Gazette features an ad telling all and sundry that a murder will take place at Little Paddocks, miss Letitia Blacklock's house in Chipping Cleghorn. And of course all her friends and acquaintances appear just in time for this murder. And so does a murderer... but when the events are over, it's the apparent killer who lies dead.

Probably Christie's most famous Marple novel and also the closest to being called a classic. I'd agree with that assessment, because this is a very fine mystery indeed. Miss Marple again turns up at a later stage in the proceedings - though not quite as late as in The Moving Finger - but quickly insinuates herself into the village life.

Since this takes place outside of St. Mary Mead, we make the acquaintance of a new police inspector in the form of Dermot Craddock, who clearly is much more appreciative of the old lady's acumen than was Inspector Slack from the earlier novels.

The cluing here is very good, with some very subtle clues a reader is almost sure to miss - though I think that with proofreading becoming less common, one or two clues might be overlooked for that reason alone.

This is worth an 87 out of a 100. Arguably the best Marple mystery and an excellent read.

1951 1957 1962 1979
1983 1986 1990 1997
2001 2003 2014
Perhaps the quintessential Miss Marple novel, it's no wonder it has several Swedish editions even though it was published during the second half of Christie's career. The Swedish made it easy on themselves and simply translated the British title literally.

Many of these covers here focus on the newspaper personal ad. 1951 manages to feature both the advertisement and the gathering at Little Paddocks. The 1957 cover does not include the latter, but instead introduces a couple of drops of blood. Both are fine covers, though nothing special.

Delfinserien has two different covers. I have the first one, which introduces Miss Marple - surely that is meant to be her, or is it Miss Blacklock? - while the later one from 1979 uses the British Fontana cover which seemed to be the default around that time. Again, both are fine. I like the surrealism of the latter better, though.

For 1983, the artist seems to have taken inspiration from the 1962 cover... The 1986 cover is more distinctive, featuring the entrance of Rudi Scherz and a huge clockface. I generally like the covers of this edition, but this again seems like a cover that could have been used for almost any story.

Since this novel might be the best-known Marple story, it's no wonder that it too was selected for the centenary edition in 1990. But this time the cover is quite different from the one in Britain. I think it's all right, but again nothing that really stands out. As for the 1997 cover - another book sale edition - my only thought is that Miss Marple has a huge head.

The 2001 edition is the pits. Sure, a lightbulb has some importance in the story, but meh. The large print edition from 2003 is fine, I guess. At least the newspaper is there. Meanwhile, the one from 2014 is another one of those nondescript covers. Some blood and a key. Okay.


  1. I have the 1957 edition, but without the dustjacket, unfortunately. The front cover, however, is the one used by Bonniers for their "Folkbibliotek" editions with a spider and a web, which I actually think is quite good: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-coGK79s617E/VhqK7CHYA3I/AAAAAAAABgk/qwPKlPZ28is/s200/018.JPG

    The story is one of the best Marples, but I happen to like Sleeping Murder very much. Looking forward to comment on that!

    1. Yeah, I have several novels with those covers. Like you, I generally like those as a cover as well, though of course it's always nice to have a dust jacket as well.

      You'll have to wait a bit for Sleeping Murder... :)