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16 August 2017

Book Review: Murder at the Vicarage

Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple, #1)Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first full-length Marple mystery, but she's almost a secondary character. The narrator is the local Vicar, who initially judges Miss Marple to be just like the other old biddies in the village, who would fit very nicely into the "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" scene in The Music Man. The Vicar thinks about one of them, "It is difficult with Miss Hartnell to know where narrative ends and vituperation begins."

But Miss Marple, while an inveterate gossip, also is the "type to notice things." So wisdom and truth come because she putters in her garden not only because she loves flowers but also loves watching the comings and goings in the neighborhood. Because she watches birds through binoculars and, if she also sees the activities of her friends and neighbors, so be it. What makes her charming, though, is that she is aware of her predilection for over-reaching inquisitiveness. It's her hobby. And she makes no apologies.

And thank goodness. Because these bumbling inspectors and constables would never have figured it out without her help.

"I wish you'd solve the case, Miss Marple, like you did the way Miss Wetherby's gill of pickled shrimps disappeared. And all because it reminded you of something quite different about a sack of coals."

"You're laughing, my dear," said Miss Marple. "But, after all, that is a very sound way of arriving at the truth. It's really what people call intuition and make such a fuss about. Intuition is like reading a word without having to spell it out. A child can't do that, because it has had so little experience. But a grown-up person knows the word because he's seen it often before."

Later, Miss Marple says, "I remember a saying of my Great Aunt Fanny's. I was sixteen at the time and thought it particularly foolish. She used to say, 'The young people think the old people are fools--but the old people know the young people are fools!"

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