Book Note: Murder at the Vicarage

Fresh from Duchess of Death, the unauthorized bio of Agatha Christie, I picked up a few of the old girl’s books on a library run, a Miss Marple and a Hercule Poirot.

I greatly prefer using the main library downtown these days, primarily because it holds a larger collection, but also because it seems more sanitary.

I must confess I’ve come down with a completely irrational case of swine flu-phobia, the symptoms of which include an uncontrollable urge to spritz any person under the age of 12 with Lysol and dry, chapped hands due to the over-application antibacterial soap and hot water at least 20 times a day.

The main library seems more sanitary than the neighborhood branch for many reasons.  The doors open automatically.  The kids’ books are quarantined on a high floor.  The ceilings soar, so what germs make their way in I pronounce to be less likely to find the lining of my nose or any other breach point for being less concentrated.

Anxious to bury my nose in a mystery, however, and short on time, I picked these up at the Heights branch.  It was overrun with children, very few of whom seemed to actually be reading, but many of whom seemed to be sniffling.  I managed to enter while someone else held the door, but did have to touch the door on my way out.  And, of course, touch the books, and breathe while I was inside.  We’ll see how it turns out.

Murder at the Vicarage, narrated by the Vicar, certainly takes a gabby tone.  I believe that more of the novels I have at our lake house are Hercule Poirot mysteries, so I will be curious to compare the tone, as I don’t remember his stories being so bumble-tumble-chitty-chatty.

I didn’t guess the ending.  At first, I tried to read slowly so as not to miss any clues, but distracted myself more than anything by trying to fix things in mind, and got rather confused by one item that turned out to be a red herring.  When I finally did learn whodunnit, the facts were jumbled enough in my mind that the denouement seemed totally plausible.

Miss Jane Marple, though central to the plot, neither narrated nor dominated the book.  Clever.  On to those famous little grey cells of M. Poirot as I continue my reintroduction to Agatha Christie.

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