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The Murder at the Vicarage

Narrated by: Joan Hickson
Series: Miss Marple, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (315 ratings)

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Summary

"Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe," declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, "would be doing the world at large a service!"

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity.

©1930 Agatha Christie (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London UK

Critic reviews

"The acknowledged queen of detective fiction." ( Observer)
"When she really hits her stride, as she does here, she is hard to surpass." ( Saturday Review of Literature)
"Joan Hickson: You can't beat her, you know. So enjoy this not-so-fluffy old lady doing her Marple thing. Genius." ( Time Out)

What members say

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  • JPH
  • Hertfordshire
  • 15-09-17

Joan Hickson the consumate Miss Marple

A Classic Agatha Christie story with the wonderful narration from the consumate Miss Marple, Joan Hickson. If you want an escape from the every day drudgery then this is a must. Thoroughly recommended.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful introduction to Marple

The fluffy old village cat shows her claws in this wonderful village mystery. Beautifully read by the incomparable Joan Hickson; you get a lovely sense of the cosy village atmosphere, and she gives Miss Marple just the right degree of deceptive vagueness when she finally unveils the solution to the baffled police force.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Dreadful. Can’t listen to it

Joan Hickson is my favourite tv Miss Marple, but my goodness this is dreadful. I’d never appreciated how high pitched her voice is - like fingernails on glass. She isn’t a very clear speaker either. I’m going to return this. I’ve listened to 20 minutes and I can’t take any more.

I also have to question the wisdom of having a female read a book where the narrating character is male... makes it even harder to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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wonderful narration!

I've seen this many times on tv so I know the story well (including the whodunnit!) but I just loved this audiobook and am sorry to be finished. Joan Hickson was my favourite Miss Marple on tv and her narration here is just perfect.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Joan Hickson the perfect Miss Marple

Would you consider the audio edition of The Murder at the Vicarage to be better than the print version?

Yes. It really takes you right into the heart of the story. You're really there.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Murder at the Vicarage?

All of it !

Which character – as performed by Joan Hickson – was your favourite?

Always Miss Marple

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes if I'd had the time

Any additional comments?

I will listen to this again it was so enjoyable.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Joan Hickson is a joy

Such an engaging little story; a lovely way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon trying to guess who did it. Perfect for a little escapism. I love Miss Marple too and Joan Hickson is the perfect narrator. She was and always will be the best Miss Marple in my opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Terrible audio version.

Simply cannot understand why a book that is written in the first person, a male vicar,, should be read by a Miss Marple type woman's voice. It made no sense. Do the producers of these audio productions actually ever read the book? . It used to be possible to return ab audible purchase. Can't find out how to do it.If I could I would.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The ONLY Miss Marple

Just as David Suchet IS Poirot, Joan Hickson IS Miss Marple, physically and vocally as well as beibg a consumate actress. We are very lucky to have these recordings to remind us how wonderful she was. Even though this is not my favourite Marple Mystery, her narration means I enjoy it just the same as the Christies with a more complex plot.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enter Miss Marple...

Colonel Protheroe is one of those men nobody likes, so when he’s shot dead in the vicar’s study the list of suspects is long. He’s a bullying husband to his second wife, Anne, an overbearing father to Lettice, his daughter, a tough magistrate meting out harsh judgement to the criminal classes of St Mary Mead, antagonistic to anyone whose morals he deems to be lax, and an exacting churchwarden, always on the look out for wrongdoing amongst the church officials and congregation. In fact, it was just earlier that very day that the vicar had remarked that anyone who murdered the colonel would be doing the world a favour!

The police are suitably baffled, but fortunately there’s an old lady in the village, with an observant eye, an ear for gossip, an astute mind and an unerring instinct for recognising evil... Miss Marple! Relying on her lifetime’s store of village parallels, she will sniff out the real guilty party while the police are still chasing wild geese all over the village green...

The narrator in the book is the vicar, Leonard Clement, and he and his younger and rather irreverent wife, Griselda, give the book much of its humour and warmth. It’s Miss Marple’s first appearance and she’s more dithery and less prone to Delphic pronouncements than she becomes in some of the later novels. This is her as I always picture her (I suspect it may have been the first one I read) and is the main reason I never think the actresses who play her do so with quite enough of a fluttery old woman feel to the character. Here, she’s a village gossip who watches the ongoings in the village through her binoculars under the pretence of being an avid bird-watcher, and the Clements joke about her as a nosy busy-body, always prying into the lives of her neighbours. As the book goes on, Leonard finds himself investigating alongside her, and gradually gains an appreciation of the intelligence and strength of character underneath this outward appearance, as does the reader.

The plot is very good, with as much emphasis on alibis and timings as on motives. Because Colonel Protheroe was such an unpleasant man, the reader (like the characters) doesn’t have to waste much time grieving for him. The suspects range from the sympathetic to the mysterious, from the wicked to the pitiable, as Christie gradually feeds their motives out to us. She shows the village as a place where no secret can be kept for long from the little army of elderly ladies who fill their lives excitedly gossiping about their neighbours. But while some of them are always getting the wrong end of the stick and spreading false stories, Miss Marple has the insight to see through to the truth.

Inspector Slack also makes his first appearance in this book – a dedicated officer, but one who is always jumping to hasty conclusions. He never stops to listen to people properly, and is brash and a bit bullying, and oh, so dismissive of our elderly heroine! A mistake, as he will discover when she reveals all towards the end!

I love this book and have read it about a million times. So it was a real pleasure to listen to the incomparable Joan Hickson’s narration of it this time – I find listening to Christie on audiobook brings back a feeling of freshness even to the ones I know more or less off by heart. Hickson gets the warmth and humour of the books, and gives each character a subtly distinctive voice, though never letting the acting get in the way of the narration. She does the working-class people particularly well, managing to avoid the slight feeling of caricaturing that can come through to modern readers in the books.

Great stuff!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I love Joan Hickson

If you loved the BBC adaptations with Joan Hickson as Miss Marple then you will love this reading. Her voice is perfect.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • FJWynne
  • 10-11-07

Joan Hickson is perfect

Not perhaps Christie's best, being the earliest of the Miss Marple mysteries, but the puzzle is neatly constructed, and Joan HIckson is the perfect narrator - not simply because she IS Miss Marple, but because she can handle the range of voices, characters and scenes with extraordinary effectiveness

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-11-17

Like truly living the story.

Loved the audio book. Joan Hickson is the best story teller ever and she pulls us into the mystery and entangling us in the action.

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  • Amanda Lobo
  • 10-08-17

Joan Hickson - the Eternal Christie Queen

Everything Joan Hickson touches turns to gold ♡
the command she has over her voice is incomparable and her performance with this Marple classic is as always - excellent. She brings the story alive.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lindy loo
  • 17-11-10

Murder at the Vicarage

Brilliant! Joan Hickson is a gem, speaks like a real upper class English lady and creates a wonderful atmosphere for this clever tale. Thoroughly recommended.