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A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple, #4)
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Book of the Month Reads > CLOSED December 2014 - A Murder is Announced

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message 1: by Carolyn F. (last edited Nov 24, 2014 06:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Originally published 1950. Features Miss Marple.

Villagers expect a fun game after a Gazette announcement of murder, but when lights flash off, shots ring out, and a masked burglar falls dead, the Inspector and vicar's wife Bunch call in expert Miss Jane Marple. Was Swiss hotel clerk Rudi framed? Miss Letitia Blackstone houses scatty Dora, cousins Julia and Patrick, gardener widow Phillipa, and paranoid cook Mitzi.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
December's book :)


4cats (fourcats) | 175 comments Am pleased I dropped in, was looking for my next read and shall be good and do a group read: )


message 4: by Jaye (new)

Jaye Rothman I've borrowed the book from the library and will start reading this weekend.


4cats (fourcats) | 175 comments Am about half way through.


message 6: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 5 comments Good choice. Cannot wait to start.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
I have this loaded onto my MP3 and will listen to it as soon as I'm done with the book I'm listening to now.


Brad Friedman | 191 comments Just finished re-listening to this in the car! My favorite Miss Marple and definitely in my top ten favorites of Christie books. Can't wait to talk with everyone about it!


4cats (fourcats) | 175 comments I thoroughly enjoyed it, she just ticks all of the boxes.


message 10: by Randee (new) - added it

Randee Baty One of my favorites!


message 11: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Vassallo | 11 comments I've started this and am really enjoying it. Can't wait to finish it and I am looking forward to the discussion.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Just started and like it already.


message 13: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Okay, I waited seven days: let's start!

A Murder Is Announced was the 50th Christie novel and was published in 1950, five years after the end of World War II. Putting the mystery aside for a moment, I think this book is an excellent commentary by one author of how British society - particularly village society - had changed since the war. Rather than connecting through the length of time that old families had owned their land, the village is filled with relative newcomers who bond through a lovable system of "black market" bartering for of life's staples that everyone has been short of since the war ended.

Of course, we see and hear most of this through the eyes of Miss Marple. In earlier Marple novels, she often appeared infrequently, sometimes not until the very end (The Moving Finger). But as Christie tired of Poirot and started sticking HIM later and later into his books - or having Mrs. Oliver act as his emissary - she started featuring Miss Marple more and more. In this book, I think we get a great balance of Marple and the suspects, plus the handsome Dermot Craddock! Plus, Christie, ever the devious plotter, uses all her commentary on post-war society as the very basis of her plot. For the killer could never have gotten away with these dastardly deeds in a pre-War village where everyone had grown up together.

So, instead of all the old families dwelling together in the great Old Hall (like the Bantrys), we have all these cottages filled with people in odd, suspect relationships: Colonel Easterbrook and his far-too-young wife, Edmund Swettenham in his almost Oedipal relationship with his dotty mother, Hinchcliffe and Murgatroyd - spinsters! - and Letty Blacklock with her dysfunctional relations whom she doesn't even know! It all may seem cozy on the surface, but Christie creates a wonderful tableau of characters for this, one of the very best village mysteries of all time.


message 14: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Vassallo | 11 comments Just finished this and really enjoyed it. As outlined by Brad, I also enjoyed the depiction of the changes in post-war English villages.


message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (crossreactivity) As I mentioned in the other thread, this is one of my top ten Christie books. Dame Agatha gives us the critical clue within the opening chapters. I remember kicking myself the first time I read this that I didn't realize the significance earlier.


message 16: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments ♪ Kim wrote: "As I mentioned in the other thread, this is one of my top ten Christie books. Dame Agatha gives us the critical clue within the opening chapters. I remember kicking myself the first time I read thi..."

Oh, yeah, Lotty? Which clue is that?????


message 17: by Randee (new) - added it

Randee Baty Excellent analysis of the book, Brad!


carol. | 32 comments ♪ Kim wrote: "Dame Agatha gives us the critical clue within the opening chapters. I"

Ok, give. (with spoiler, of course). I re-read the first couple chapters this week and didn't see any obvious hints.

It's hard for me to analyze though, because I've read it so many times that I immediately remembered the murderer and who ends up dying, but not why.


message 19: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Carol. [Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows] wrote: "♪ Kim wrote: "Dame Agatha gives us the critical clue within the opening chapters. I"

Ok, give. (with spoiler, of course). I re-read the first couple chapters this week and didn't see any obvious h..."


Carol, In my response to Kim, I thought I gave the clue! Check it out! :)


carol. | 32 comments Ahhhhh!


message 21: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (crossreactivity) Carol. [Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows] wrote: "Ok, give. (with spoiler, of course). I re-read the first couple chapters this week and didn't see any obvious h..."

Yes, Brad provided the clue. I actually thought it was a typo the first time I read the book!


message 22: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Smuz | 22 comments This has always been one of my faves. As for Brad's clue, the first time I read the book, I breezed right past and never even noticed it. (DUH!) Love the description of what life was like post-war. And I would've liked to see more instances of Miss Marple's talent for mimicry -- I think this is the only book where it ever came into play.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Finished the audiobook. I think my problem is I've read it and watched it so many times that I practically can say the dialogue along with the audiobook. Enjoyed it but not as much as I wanted/expected to.


message 24: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Carolyn F. wrote: "I think my problem is I've read it and watched it so many times that I practically can say the dialogue along with the audiobook. Enjoyed it but not as much as I wanted/ex..."

I get that way about some of these books, too, Carolyn. For example, Towards Zero lost some of its luster for me this time around. But that doesn't happen with this book. I guess I just love the citizens of Chipping Cleghorn, and I feel a sadness for the pathetic murderer and at least two of the culprit's victims. When Letty Blacklock breaks down after her dear friend's death, it's one of the few instances where Christie really lets us feel the loss that happens during a murder investigation. And, of course, (view spoiler)



˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments This is the first time I've read this book and I think it's great. I thought the clue was a typo too. :) I like these English villages. I'll bet many of our current neighbors have these odd, suspect type of relationships but we just aren't close enough to know it.


message 26: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments In his great book on Christie, author Julian Symons considered this book one of her three best (the other two were Five Little Pigs and, I think, The ABC Murders), but he complained about all the coincidences in the plot, like both Pip AND Emma coming to the village. And it IS lucky that the vicar's cat spilled the water in front of Miss Marple, isn't it? But I forgive Christie for this. Other authors, like Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr, were as full of artifice with much less charm.


carol. | 32 comments The cat was useful, but there was also mention of the (view spoiler), so I had faith in Miss Marple.


message 28: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Carol. wrote: "The cat was useful, but there was also mention of the [spoilers removed], so I had faith in Miss Marple."

Oh, certainly, Carol! Only Miss Marple was sharp enough to (view spoiler) Still, it was awfully fortunate that Miss Marple had a talent for mimicry! As Kathy stated above, it would have been nice to see other examples of that! a:)


☯Emily  Ginder | 18266 comments I am not as sharp as Miss Marple because I still don't understand the difference between enquiry and inquiry. In fact my spellcheck says enquiry is not a word in my dictionary.


message 30: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments ☯Emily wrote: "I am not as sharp as Miss Marple because I still don't understand the difference between enquiry and inquiry. In fact my spellcheck says enquiry is not a word in my dictionary."

And that IS significant, Emily, because (view spoiler)


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Where did I miss that Edmund and Phillipa were getting married?


☯Emily  Ginder | 18266 comments The episode where they are ordering newspapers took place after they came back from their honeymoon.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments ☯Emily wrote: "The episode where they are ordering newspapers took place after they came back from their honeymoon."

When was the decision made to get married? That's what I missed.


☯Emily  Ginder | 18266 comments Ah, Christie kind of skipped over that. She has a tendency to do that sort of thing. The engagement happened sometime after Edmund was castigated by Craddock for wanting to marry a rich wife and before Miss Marple and Craddock explained the rationale of the crimes in Chapter 23. (We don't know how long it was between both events.) At the end of that chapter, Phillipa says, "She actually presented me with the recipe for Delicious Death as a kind of wedding present." Edmund then adds that Mrs. Lucas gave the happy couple "some silver asparagus tongs as a wedding present. I shall have enormous pleasure in not asking her to the wedding."


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Thanks. I thought I was missing a few pages


message 36: by Judith (new)

Judith Deborah | 1 comments FWIW, I adore the unabridged audio version read by Rosemary Leach, who does a flawless job. I've listened to it many times.


message 37: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Judith wrote: "FWIW, I adore the unabridged audio version read by Rosemary Leach, who does a flawless job. I've listened to it many times."

And I listened to Joan Hickson this time. She will always be Miss Marple to me! :)


Carol (mansonville) | 55 comments wonderful discussion. Unlike most of you , this was my first time reading this novel and I loved it.


message 39: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel (rach5275) This is my favorite Miss Marple. I love how it ends, how it keeps you guessing to the end.


message 40: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Christie was so at the top of her game that it makes me wonder what she was thinking of to release They Came to Baghdad next! Can't WAIT till we tackle that one next month. I just hate to bid Chipping Cleghorn goodbye! :)


message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I finished a few days ago...very good book and a somewhat twisted ending. I liked this one very much.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Brad wrote: "Christie was so at the top of her game that it makes me wonder what she was thinking of to release They Came to Baghdad next! Can't WAIT till we tackle that one next month. I just hate to bid Chipp..."

Oh no Brad! I've just started They Came to Baghdad hope it's good.


Mitali | 52 comments I (re)read this book almost a month ago, but somehow forgot to post in this thread. Weird … I could have sworn I already discussed it.

When I originally read this book, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I liked it a little more on rereading, though I must say, I’m not entirely sure why people seem to love it so much. It’s a good novel, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but I wouldn’t consider it among Christie’s best. Maybe the fact that I remembered the solution to the mystery quite clearly has something to do with my lack of enthusiasm for the book – but then again, I liked it more now than on my first read, so that can’t be it…

So first, here’s what I did like about it. I liked the character of Letitia Blacklock (view spoiler). I know that Christie doesn’t really do flashbacks, but I really wished that I could have gotten to see (view spoiler) and maybe a glimpse of Letitia’s friendship with the Goedlings.

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed was the post-war atmosphere. I still think that Taken at the Flood is Christie’s best depiction of the aftermath of WWII on daily life in Britain, but A Murder is Announced comes close. The constant worries about rationing, the wistful reminiscences about the plentiful past, and the minor acts of rebellion by obtaining blackmarket goods, all paint the picture of a world very different from what we experience now.

Now for the bad stuff. The whole Pip and Emma business is really nonsense. First and foremost, it’s just not believable that if they were Randall Goedling’s heirs (however contingent), his lawyers wouldn’t have tracked them down and found out exactly who they were. At the very least, they would have had to find out their full names (view spoiler). Are we really meant to believe that in his will, Randall wrote that his millions would go to his sister’s kids, whose names may or may not be Pip and Emma?

But even more than that, the fact that (view spoiler) It’s just ridiculous.

The romance between Phillipa and Edmund is really phoned in. It feels like after Christie submitted her manuscript, her editor noticed that there was no love story in the book, so Christie quickly made up a couple of scenes involving two of the single young people in the book, and stuck on the epilogue. Edmund really is such a nonentity that I had already forgotten his name, and had to look it up in the book right now.


message 44: by Carolyn F. (last edited Jan 01, 2015 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
I agree Mitali, I didn't think the Pip and Emma characters were essential to the book either. In my opinion, they could have easily been gone and the book would have been fine.


message 45: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments I understand WHY Christie included Pip and Emma. The whole murder ad idea, while a compelling hook for the novel stops dead once the police learn that Rudi was working for someone. Yet what motive would any of those nice neighbors have for killing Letty? Christie COULD have focused on different small town intrigues, but she needed to bring in Letty's past for obvious reasons. I agree, Mitali, that it's a little clunky, and the murderer doesn't really use the P/E info in any logical way. But some of the pathos for me is how a really rather simple plot runs away from the killer and let's the tragedy of it all grow and grow.

I wonder how we will all react how Christie uses basically the same technique in A Pocket Full of Ryr with the Blackbird Mine!


carol. | 32 comments I thought that the Pip/Emma was meant as a semi-plausible red herring.

But really, I never read Christie with a thought to plausibility, just that the murder works within the structure of the story. There's always all sorts of strange coincidences, particularly ones that bring Miss Marple and Hercule into the scene!


Mitali | 52 comments I don't really have a problem with the concept of Pip and Emma as red herrings. What I do find silly is the idea that no one - not even Randall Goedling - knew their full names. It's close to impossible that he would have been able to make a legally-binding document leaving them millions of pounds without even mentioning them by name. Also, the idea that (view spoiler) is just far-fetched.

Brad wrote: "But some of the pathos for me is how a really rather simple plot runs away from the killer and let's the tragedy of it all grow and grow."

I agree. (view spoiler) is particularly heart-breaking.


message 48: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Well, your points are all well taken, Mitali. However, as I slog for the third time in my life through They Came to Baghdad, the foolishness abounding in this book makes A Murder Is Announced seem like the most carefully researched book of all time! But that is for another thread! :)


Trudy Pomerantz | 2 comments Brad wrote: "☯Emily wrote: "I am not as sharp as Miss Marple because I still don't understand the difference between enquiry and inquiry. In fact my spellcheck says enquiry is not a word in my dictionary."

A..."


In British English both enquiry and inquiry are correct and can be used somewhat interchangeably. It was actually Letitia who spelt enquiry with an e (which would be considered incorrect in US English) and Charlotte who spelt it with an i and both are correct spellings so I must humbly disagree with Brad's analysis.


message 50: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Trudy wrote: "Brad wrote: "☯Emily wrote: "I am not as sharp as Miss Marple because I still don't understand the difference between enquiry and inquiry. In fact my spellcheck says enquiry is not a word in my di..."

Thanks for the information, Trudy. I'm afraid I analyzed this clue from the distinct disadvantage of being an American. The gist of the point, which I think I understood correctly but stated badly, was that a person rarely spells the same word two different ways in her lifetime. That, I think, was Miss Marple's point, not that a word had been MISspelled.


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