Narrator: Emilia Fox
Series: Miss Marple #5
Published by HarperAudio on March 26, 2013 (first published June 1950)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 56 mins
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The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are agog with curiosity when the Gazette advertises “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.”
A childish practical joke? Or a spiteful hoax? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, the locals arrive at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out and a gun is fired. When they come back on, a gruesome scene is revealed. An impossible crime? Only Miss Marple can unravel it.
An idyllic village in the English countryside is waking up, its quirky residents about to start their day with their favorite newspaper, where an invitation to murder is waiting for them. “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30 p.m. Friends please accept this, this only intimation.”
Little Paddocks is the property owned by Miss Letitia Blacklock, a house she lives in with one of her dearest friends, two young cousins, her gardener and her cook. Miss Blacklock, understanding how her village works, feels compelled to have drinks and snacks set out on the date, even though she has no idea what’s going on. On Friday, neighbors simply “stop by casually.” What everyone assumes is a party game takes a grim turn when a young man winds up dead. With many and differing accounts of the event, Miss Jane Marple arrives on the scene to assist with the investigation.
As Miss Marple gets to know the village and its inhabitants, she begins to piece together what actually happened that night. The red herrings in this plot were vast and varied and not one detail was left unchecked. In hindsight, the clues were all there, but I’m never much good at filtering them out. The village and neighbors were both a source of comic relief and the force that moved the plot along. The characters are wonderfully drawn, from the amusing to the melodramatic, with their secrets and hopes and relationships. Miss Marple spends most of her time in the background, being her observant, understanding self. “Really, I have no gifts—no gifts at all—except perhaps a certain knowledge of human nature. People, I find, are apt to be far too trustful. I’m afraid that I have a tendency always to believe the worst. Not a nice trait. But so often justified by subsequent events.”