“Like to see the picture of a murderer?”
Major Palgrave was a bit of a bore but when he dies suddenly shortly after uttering these words Miss Marple’s suspicions are aroused. She finds the picture he was talking about has disappeared – or has it? Had he moved onto a different subject? And the sight of which of their fellow guests had caused him to end his story so abruptly? If only she’d paid more attention because the next day the Major is dead, seemingly of natural causes, but naturally she is not satisfied.
Miss Marple is especially devious in her investigations – inventing a dead nephew in an attempt to get hold of the mysterious photograph and later damaging a shoe and faking a fall in case she should be observed spying on someone.
In the absence of Sir Henry Clithering or Dermot Craddock she has to enlist the help of irascible, but influential, millionaire Mr Rafiel, to give her investigation some weight.
If you can no longer be sure who your neighbours might really be (A Murder is Announced) how much more uncertain are you of fellow holidaymakers who have no one else to vouch for their bona fides. And even Miss Marple isn’t exactly who she appears to be as she takes on the mantle of Nemesis!
Recurring Character Development
Her nephew, Raymond West, sends her modern novels which she does not enjoy reading.
Last winter “she had had a bad go of pneumonia and medical opinion had advised sunshine”. Raymond has arranged and paid for her holiday.
Has rheumatism in her neck.
Once met a young man at a croquet party who seemed so nice but when he was warmly welcomed by her father she found that after all he was very dull.
Towards the end of the book reads a few verses from Thomas à Kempis, turns out the light and sends up a prayer.
Signs of the Times
Major Palgrave says “Take all this business about Kenya” and given the book was published in 1964 he is likely to be referring to the fact that it became an independent country in 1963.
The Hillingdons have articles published in the National Geographic and the Royal Horticultural Journal. The former has been published monthly since 1888, currently with 33 different versions around the world. The latter has been known since 1975 as The Garden.
Miss Marple misquotes from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”: Duncan is dead (should be “Duncan’s in his grave”). After Life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.