Well, here it is: the first obstacle in the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge (hereafter to be known as the WIAN? RC)!
As previously mentioned, I have decided to complete this challenge in two parts – the Christie-listie, which is comprised entirely of books by or about Agatha Christie, and the Un-Christie-listie, which is comprised of books that are not in any way related to the Dame herself….Clearly, this first title is from the Christie-listie, and specifically relates to Category 3 – a book with a party or celebration mentioned in the title.
So where is the party/celebration in A Murder is Announced? Well, according to our good friend Professor Wikipedia, “a party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, or recreation“…..and a subcategory of this, the suprise party, is “a party that is not made known beforehand to the person in whose honor it is being held”. It is therefore abundantly clear that the murder in the title, which has been announced, will involve a gathering of people (who necessarily, on seeing each other, will socialise, converse or engage in some form of recreation). Further to this, the person to be murdered will, most likely, not have prior knowledge of their status as the guest in whose honour the event is being held. Clearly then, a murder is a sort of surprise party. I rest my case Your Honour.
Given that the Christie-listie is a very specific sub-category of the crime genre, I have devised a special rating system for use in reviewing these works. It consists of 5 criteria against which a star rating (of which 5 stars is the highest) will be applied. The book will then be summarised in a rhyming couplet.
The criteria are as follows:
Rate of Moustache-Twiddlage (for Poirot novels) or Stitch-Droppage (for Marple novels): This refers to the expected level of engagement with the plot as measured by the extent to which anxious body language emerges in the reader…
Red Herring Haul: relating to the level of mis-clues present…
Butler-osity: which refers to the complexity of the revelation at the end (based on the foundation level of non-complexity in which the Butler is identified as the one who did it)…..
Common-or-Garden-ness: the formulaity of the plot set-up, cast of characters and reveal. Otherwise known as the Retired-Colonel-Ometer…
Rate of Contextual Controversy: or the extent to which racist, sexist or other generally a-bit-off-by-today’s-standards references are casually scattered about the text
A Murder is Announced – WIAN? RC REVIEW
Plot summary: The residents of Chipping Cleghorn are aghast/delighted/upset by an announcement in the local paper stating that a murder will take place at the big house at a given time. Said nosey residents turn up to see what goes down, only to be shocked/dazzled/terrified when the lights go out at said given time. Shots are fired, a body is discovered….enter Miss Marple (in a casual and nondescript fashion) for the usual highjinks after local constabulary assess that the situation is a bit iffy.
Common-or-Garden-ness: Retired Colonel who served in the colonies? Check. Quiet rural village with a spectacularly silly name? Yesiree! Oodles of live-in hangers-on with shady backgrounds? You bet your sweet bippy!! It’s a veritable feast for all those Christie-capers we know and love.
Plot in a Poem:
If you’re game to earn a shilling,
the stage is set to make a killing!
Overall Rating: Meh. Not her best work, but a reasonable enough read for a rainy day.
So, that’s one down, many to go….
Until next time,