tirsdag den 28. april 2009

Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage (1930)


Cozy Mystery Challenge # 1

I had three good reasons to choose this one as the first in my cozy mystery challenge: it is a real classic, it takes place in a vicarage, and a vicar´s wife plays an important role in it. (See my own vicarage below the review).

As a rule, vicars in British crime fiction are unworldly and impractical, or naïve and boring. But reverend Clement is quite appealing in his total adoration of his unsuitably beautiful young Griselda.

The church warden, tiresome and choleric Colonel Protheroe, is killed when he is going to reveal something to the vicar. A narrow circle of suspects are all gathered in a handful of houses around the vicarage in St Mary Mead.

We are introduced to Mrs Marple through the eyes of Griselda. The kind vicar likes her for her sense of humour, but his wife is more skeptical: “She is the worst cat in the village… And she always knows every single thing that happens – and draws the worst inferences from it.”

The characters are sketched by quick strokes of the pen, and some of the typical ´roles´ in this – as in many other Christie novels – are the gruff ex officer, the spinster, the vamp, the untidy young girl, the naïve or flighty maids, the mysterious newcomer etc.

And of course there is Miss Marple, spinster and private eye by virtue of her observant, or should we say curious, nature. She often works in her front garden with its perfect view of the doings of the villagers, equipped with her binoculars ´for bird watching´. In this first Marple novel she is efficient and perspicacious, but does not appear as sympathetic as in later books.

The police are mainly represented by Inspector Slack, the supercilious type who draws his own hasty conclusions and invariably fails to listen to others. But when everything seems hopeless, Miss Marple takes charge. Fear not, justice will prevail.

See Kerrie´s review on Mysteries in Paradise.


Agatha Christie, Mordet i præstegården (1951)
Cozy Mystery Challenge # 1.

For mig er der mindst tre gode grunde til at anmelde denne bog som den første i min cozy mystery challenge: den er en rigtig klassiker inden for genren, den udspiller sig i en præstegård, og en præstekone har en væsentlig rolle i den. Præster i britiske krimier er som regel verdensfjerne og upraktiske, eller naive og kedelige. Men pastor Clement er i det mindste tiltalende i sin totale tilbedelse af sin ganske upassende smukke og unge Griselda.

Kirkeværgen, den besværlige og koleriske oberst Protheroe bliver myrdet, netop som han vil til at betro præsten et eller andet. En snæver kreds af mistænkte befinder sig alle i de få huse omkring præstegården i St Mary Mead.

Griselda skal til teselskab, og her skal vi møde Miss Marple for første gang. Den rare pastor kan godt lide miss Marple, som ´i hvert fald har humoristisk sans.” Griselda er mere skeptisk: ”Hun er den største sladderhank i byen. Hun ved alt, hvad der foregår, og hun lægger den værste betydning i det alt sammen.”

Personerne bliver hurtigt skitseret, og nogle af de typiske ´roller´ i denne som i mange andre Christie-romaner er den koleriske ex-officer, gammeljomfruen, vampen, den sjuskede unge pige, de naive eller forfløjne tjenestepiger, den mystiske, nyopdukkede fremmede osv.

Og så er der selvfølgelig Miss Marple, gammeljomfru og privatdetektiv, i kraft af sin observante, eller skal vi kalde det nysgerrige, natur. Hun arbejder ofte i sin have, med god udsigt til landsbyboernes gøren og laden, udstyret med sin nyttige ´fuglekikkert´. I denne første Marple-bog er hun effektiv og skarpsindig, men fremstår ikke nær så sympatisk som i senere bøger.

Politiet repræsenteres blandt andet af inspector Slack, den overlegne type, som hellere drager forhastede slutninger og låser sig fast på sin egen opfattelse, end lytter til andre. Men bedst som det hele ser håbløst ud, er Miss Marple selvfølgelig på pletten.

Se Kerries anmeldelse, Mysteries in Paradise, og ´min´ præstegård her under.

9 kommentarer:

lilly sagde ...

Okay, I'll tell you a secret: I have never read any Christie books, not Poirot and not Miss Maple either. I really will have to get that fixed.

Kerrie sagde ...

Now you need to submit this review to the Agatha Christie Blog Carnival Dorte. http://acrccarnival.blogspot.com/
I love that cover!
Your vicarage is a pretty imposing looking place. How old is it?

Martin Edwards sagde ...

This was the first book for adults I ever read, at the tender age of nine. And a very good traditional mystery it is.

Beth F sagde ...

Ok, I'm not as bad as Lilly, but I haven't yet read a Miss Marple. I do love the various TV shows. I really do need to read at least one Marple.

Dorte H sagde ...

Lilly, I think a person might live very well without ever meeting Hercule Poirot. Not certain with regard to Miss Marple, though ;)
They ARE cozy.

Kerrie, thank you. I think our vicarage is from the 1920s, but I am not certain. Many of them are much older.

Martin, that was early :)
I was somewhat older, but I was introduced to Ms Christie because I went to the library together with a friend who borrowed some of them for her mother. I must have been 12-15??? I really don´t recall.

Beth, she is so much more human than Poirot. I think he is a bit of a ´stiff´ ;)

Ms. Bookish sagde ...

I didn't realize this was the first Christie book to feature Miss Marple. It's funny to think of her as unsympathetic but I can see it how she might have started out that way. Often Christie describes Miss Marple as tall and angular, but my mind's eye usually sees her as kind of fluffy and pink and white.

Dorte H sagde ...

Hi Ms Bookish.

I think it is because we see her through Griselda´s eyes (mrs Clement). She is too young to have much patience with elderly busybodies. Her attitude changes through the book, but I don´t think Christie had quite made up her mind what kind of person Miss Marple should be.
If I had time right now, it could be fun to write some posts about Miss Marple´s development :)

Margot sagde ...

Just saw this listed on the AC Blog Carnival and had to come check it out. Excellent review. I am a fan of Miss Marple. I like that you include a picture of your vicarage. My mind could only visualize an American parsonage. This is much better.

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot, thank you so much. The vicarage was the reason why I chose to review this one as an example of a ´cozy mystery´ so I am glad you appreciate our Danish vicarage. It is a wonderful place during the summer months, but can be a bit troublesome in the winter.