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Agatha Christie - A Murder is Announced - Full Review
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A Murder is Announced

by Agatha Christie

HarperCollins (2007)
Read by Joan Hickson
Unabridged CD Edition

Joan Hickson puts in a mediocre performance reading this well thought out murder mystery. Hickson's own performance is not well thought through: her voice characterisations are not well differentiated nor is it always easy to differentiate between narrative and dialogue from listening to her voice alone.
The story itself is extremely well planned and executed. The plot is something of a marvel and one does not have to go very far in the narrative before some new perplexing mystery is established.
Set in the post war period the novel is very much of its time and features scenes and circumstances that could not occur at any other point in history.
If the characters are not as well drawn and as engaging as those in some of Christie's best novels, the circumstances they find themselves in are uniquely fascinating. Here we find the desperate deserter trying to get by in a nation that cannot forgive cowardice, the despised refugee apparently fleeing the Nazis and finding herself lodged in unsympathetic rural England, the ordinary inhabitants of a rationed country tweaking the rules to breaking point to get their hands on the rationed basics. Is all this, I wonder, a romanticization of the war? Not of the battlefield war, but of the war back at home and its aftermath?
The storyline is typical Marple. And there is a every opportunity for Miss Marple to exercise her theory of types - the idea that knowledge-in-detail of a particular type of individual provides the potential of instant insights into the lives of similar types as and when encountered.
What is odd is that the end of the novel is decidedly dramatic, decidedly Poirotesque. In those closing chapters we are asked to conceive of the murderer becoming so unstable as to kill almost by habit, and to act as though crazy. We are asked to accept Marple acting with the sort of love for theatre that we usually would expect to find only in the egotistical Hercule Poirot.
It is curious that after such a well thought out novel, Christie could not take the trouble to produce a more convincing finale.

Litrev rating 3 / 5



 

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