'A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 5th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30 pm. Friends please accept this, the only intimation.'
'In an English village, you turn over a stone and have no idea what will crawl out.'
So goes the advertisement that stirs up the sleepy little village of Chipping Cleghorn. That night, a dozen people come together to witness the murder, including the inhabitants of Little Paddocks, all of them equally clueless about the situation. Or are they? When the clock strikes six thirty, the lights go out and a man bursts into the room with a flashlight, yelling "Stick 'em up!" Though the people all react differently, they still think it's just a game — until three gunshots are fired. Two of the bullets hit the wall and injure the hostess, while the third one hits and kills... the intruder.
Published in 1950 as Agatha Christie
's 50th book and adapted into several movies and miniseries, A Murder Is Announced
is a true crime novel classic rife with deception, suspense, and English charm
This mystery provides examples of:
- Action Girl: In their backstories, at least. Hinch was an Air Raid Precautions warden during the war, while Emma a.k.a. Julia was in the French resistance.
- Adaptational Heroism: Patrick is more likeable in the Joan Hickson adaptation.
- Adaptational Villainy: Edmund Swettenham in the 2005 adaptation.
- British Stuffiness: Natch.
Mrs Easterbrook: Archie... there's going to be a murder.
Col Easterbrook: What time?
Mrs Easterbrook: Six thirty this evening.
Col Easterbrook: Short notice.
- Break the Cutie: The murderer's sympathetic backstory.
- Butch Lesbian: Though never explicitly stated to be one, Miss Hinchliffe very much fits this trope.
- Dead Person Impersonation: "Letitia" is really the other sister, Charlotte. The real Letitia is long dead. Reasons had to do with inheriting a large sum of money and thinking the fraud couldn't possibly hurt anyone.
- The Ditz: Miss Murgatroyd, Dora Bunner, Mrs Swettenham
- Does Not Like Men: Hinch is convinced from the start that the murderer is a man, "because we all know what dirty pigs men are." She's wrong.
- Funny Foreigner: Patrick and Julia treat Mitzi like one.
- Gossipy Hens: Letitia's neighbours react to the murder advertisement by showing up at her place at the appointed time and expecting something exciting to happen.
- Hide Your Lesbians: There's a strong subtext between Hinch and Murgatroyd, but the exact nature of their relationship is not specified, and since Christie held rather old-fashioned views, it's possible that the subtext isn't even intentional.
- His Name Is...: Poor Miss Murgatroyd. Also a case of Can Not Spit It Out, since she had plenty of time to finish the sentence.
- Never One Murder
- Noodle Incident: The police discover something unpleasant about Mrs Easterbrook's past, but as it isn't relevant to the murder they ignore it and we never hear any more details.
- Last Name Basis: Hinch and Murgatroyd.
- Lampshade Hanging: The 1985 BBC television adaptation introduces several examples, as follows:
- Little Old Lady Investigates: Miss Marple is of course the Trope Codifier, but she's also Genre Savvy about it: "A policeman asking questions is open to the grave of suspicion, but an old lady asking questions is just an old lady asking questions."
- Mystery Magnet: When Miss Marple goes to Chipping Cleghorn with the excuse of visiting the vicar's wife (who is a distant niece of hers), the vicar remarks, "A man dies in highly suspicious circumstances in Chipping Cleghorn, and suddenly Aunt Jane is coming to stay." The wife is no less observant of that herself.
- Last Minute Hookup: Philippa "Pip" and Edmund.
- Lights Off, Somebody Dies: The one you would least expect.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Julia is Philippa's sister.
- The Reveal: A whole chain reaction of them at the Summation Gathering.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Miss Hinchcliffe is rather gruff in her dealings with Miss Murgatroyd, but shows deep affection when pressed.
- Separated at Birth: Julia and Philippa, who are "Emma and Pip".
- Screaming Woman: Mitzi, the cook.
- Summation Gathering: Subverted with Craddock's speech; later played straight by Miss Marple.
- Sympathetic Murder Backstory
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Charlotte Blacklok
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Letitia's death, preventing Charlotte from enjoying the inheritance that would have, in her eyes, made up for the years of affliction she suffered.
- Younger and Hipper: Hinch and Murgatroyd in the 2005 adaptation.