Book Discussion Series: A Murder is Announced

This month my book club read an Agatha Christie novel. I am ashamed to admit that I have never read any of her novels before. Everything I know about Agatha Christie, except that she was a prolific mystery writer, I learned from a Doctor Who episode.

I always meant to read one of her books. It seems a book nerd such as myself should at least sample all the famous authors, but her novels never made it very far up my book reading list. One of my only regrets in life is that there will never be enough time for me to read all the books I would like.

When a fellow book clubber suggested we read one of her novels, I was happy to put it on the list. She selected one based on a suggestion from her mother who is a librarian and avid Christie fan. Her suggestion did not disappoint.

A Murder is Announced has the feel of a traditional whodunit. Since we are inundated with action and thriller mysteries, the story was a nice departure from what I’ve come to expect.

Within the first few pages, I started comparing it to the movie, Clue. I even had the movie soundtrack playing in my head as I read. The characters are all likeable and almost have a quirky quality. Be prepared to make a list of the cast of players because they are easily confused, but that adds to the story telling. In this way and in many others, Christie was a literary genius.

A few questions while reading:

  • Is the writing style still relevant?
  • How are the characters introduced and developed?
  • Compare this story with those popular today.
  • Aside from this book being part of the Miss Marple series, does Miss Marple need to be a part of the story?
  • Do you see clues along the way of who the guilty party might be?

Since this is the only Agatha Christie novel I’ve read, I cannot make sweeping generalities about her writing, but based on this story, I am a fan. I only have one very teeny weeny criticism, which is hardly a criticism but for lack of a better term that is what I am calling it.

This story was contemporary when it was published in 1950. That means it holds a lot of the feelings of the time. The characters make several comments about post-World War II life. These comments are sometimes rather vague and can go over the head of a reader not of that time. That said, it also reminds the reader that it is of another age and the comments add to the story.

If you haven’t read one of Agatha Christie’s books, do it now. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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