A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie, first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club, June 1950 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in the same month. I read Open Road ebook (Kindle) edition
A notice appears in the paper of Chipping Cleghorn: “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, 29 October, at Little Paddocks, at 6.30 pm. Friends accept this, the only intimation.”
This surprises Letitia Blacklock, owner of Little Paddocks; however, she takes it in stride and prepares for guests that evening. There is, apparently a parlor game called “Murder” and everyone assumes that’s what this will be. Several friends and neighbors attend. As the clock strikes 6.30, the lights go out, and a door swings open, revealing a man with a blinding torch who demands the guests “Stick ’em up!” Most do so, believing it to be part of the game, but the game ends when shots are fired into the room. When the lights turn on, Miss Blacklock’s ear is bleeding from a bullet grazing her earlobe, and the gunman is dead on the ground. Mrs. Blacklock’s companion, Dora “Bunny” Bunner, recognizes the gunman as Rudi Scherz, a Swiss man who worked for a local hotel and had recently asked Letitia for money.
One by one, suspects are added and subtracted, and Miss Marple, who happened to be staying with a friend at the local vicarage, is called upon, along with Inspector Craddock, to get to the bottom of the case.
The novel is considered a crime novel classic. The book was heavily promoted upon publication in 1950 as being Christie’s fiftieth book, although in truth this figure could only be arrived at by counting in both UK and US short story collections. A slightly similar storyline had previously been explored in Christie’s Miss Marple short story “The Companion”, where the characters also lived in Little Paddocks.
Yes, I’ve been reading/rereading Christie.
In what is sometimes an overabundance of words, the typical methods of Miss Marple are on full display in this novel, where human nature and motives from the past prove to be the key to solving the mystery. I like many of the Marple novels, but I found this one to be so-so.