The number of murders that Miss Marple investigates are excessive for an elderly gentlewoman with no official connection to crime, and it might be thought that St. Mary Mead was a hot bed of murder and mayhem. In fact, although many of the Miss Marple stories start in St. Mary Mead, only three of the novels have murders occurring in or near the village: The Murder at the Vicarage (1930), The Body in the Library (1942) and The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side (1962). There are also murders set in St. Mary Mead in a few Christie short stories, such as Death by Drowning in the collection The Thirteen Problems (1932) and The Tape Measure Murder in Miss Marple’s Final Cases (1979).
Helena Alleyn’s boy and I want an assurance from you. A friend of mine has just been murdered,” the voice continued, “and I hear the local police are calling in your people. I would greatly prefer you, personally, to take charge of the whole thing. That can be arranged, I
happens to give me the job.”
He groped where he had seen her fall and heard a familiar and most welcome cough.
The majority of village mysteries by the three authors that I have considered take several chapters to set the scene, establish the characters and commit the first murder. If the main protagonist is a series detective, and the crime is not committed in the place where they live, a great deal can happen before they even arrive in the village and start to investigate. The village is a fascinating location for a detective story, and in my next article I will be considering village mysteries by several more Golden Age authors.