BookBin2012: The Murder at the Vicarage

It’s finally happened, denizens. I am no longer an Agatha Christie virgin.

It was bound to take place sooner or later. One simply cannot claim a love of literature without giving a go to all those “prime suspect” authors whose works continue to be highly revered by fans and critics of their respective genres.

I suppose I was late to the Christie party because her novels reign within a literary realm I rarely visit: the detective genre. I’m still not really sure why this genre is so hit-or-miss with me, but I do keep giving it a go. One day, something from its hallowed halls will simply knock my socks off.

The Murder at the Vicarage wasn’t necessarily the sock-knocking “something” in question. Not that I was expecting it to be. Honestly, I wasn’t quite certain what to expect. I have seen several of the BBC Miss Marple and Poirot offerings, but I don’t think I ever paid attention to them while watching them. They were sort of background noise while I did something else. And even though I claim to be quite the Anglophile and to have a deeply genetic connection to all things England, I’ve never even considered going to see The Mousetrap while in London.

So what to think of this novel? I was delighted to realize that it was the very first appearance of Miss Marple, that ingenious “spinster sleuth” who starred in one of Christie’s detective serials. I didn’t know at first where this novel fit into Christie’s oeuvre. All I knew was that it was the only one of her novels offered through Amazon’s free Kindle collection. Free is a great incentive to finally give something a go, eh?

As for the story itself, it’s quite…comforting, actually (an odd description, to be sure, for a murder mystery!). Small village tale told in a compelling, lucid voice. Quietly ingenious characters and simple deductive reasoning from a quaint “heroine” of subdued charm and sharp reasoning. An exemplary example of storytelling from another time, another place. I imagine it would be considered dull or pointless to many today. A shame, though. I quite enjoyed it.

I’m also still enjoying my Kindle experience (segue, ho!), and I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was able to go straight to Amazon’s Kindle section to learn more about Christie’s works immediately after finishing The Murder at the Vicarage (even though it was almost midnight and I’d been in bed for almost an hour by that point). Very nice.

What I don’t like is the fact that it seems that Amazon is slowly whittling away its free library. Whereas I was able to download this novel for free, Amazon has now once more listed it as a purchase-only offering. I can’t help but wonder how many other books they’ve shifted from their free section as the popularity of the Kindle continues to grow. Glad I went on that free spree right after I received this for my birfday!

Final Verdict: Christie shall be staying on my Kindle. Perhaps soon enough I shall track down the next entry in Miss Marple’s adventures. Or maybe even…Poirot!