What is the summary for A Murder is Announced?

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katwood001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Murder is Announced is a lovely Miss Marple mystery story by Agatha Christie. The story begins when in the local newspaper of Chipping Cleghorn an advertisement in the paper announces that there will be a murder on Friday, October 29th at Little Paddocks at 6:30 pm. Despite the warning, the neighbors show up, many thinking that it is the invitation to a game. Letitia Blacklock is surprised by it but passes it off as a joke. At 6:30 that night, the lights go out. A man with a torch appears and threatens them to put their hands up. Everyone, assuming it's a game, does so. A gun goes off in the room. The guests panic, and the door slams shut. When the lights are returned, Letitia's ear has been grazed and the man with the gun is dead. His name is Rudi Scherz. It turns out that he had been asking for money a few days earlier. The police are called and after a short investigation, they decide that it was a suicide or a bizarre robbery gone wrong. 

As in most Miss Marple stories, the spunky older woman just happens to be staying at the spa. Craddock, the Inspector, brings her into the investigation, because he doesn’t agree that the event was a suicide or an accidental death. After the investigation, it is found out that Schertz had been convicted of theft and forgery. His girlfriend informs the inspector that he was paid to be the holdup man, but it was supposed to be an act. They begin looking into why Letitia was shot. She has no enemies and no major money except the little that she manages to save. It is revealed that she may inherit money from a man by the name of Randall Goedler. He has passed away and his wife, Belle, is ill and may die very soon. If this happens, Letitia will inherit the entire fortune. It is found out that a Pip and Emma inherit if Letitia dies before Belle. No one knows who these children are or what they look like.

The room where the incident took place also reveals several clues. The hinges on the door that Schertz came through had been oiled and the furniture was rearranged so the door could be used. (There was a table in the way.) After investigating Belle and talking with Bunny, more information about the cousins and the relationship of Belle and her sisters is learned. 

Things take a twist when Bunny dies after taking some of Letitia's aspirin. Letitia is very upset and Miss Marple visits. She asks to see pictures of Emma and Pip's mother, Sonia, but they are all missing. A third murder happens to Miss Murgatroyd who is a spinster and lives with Miss Hinchcliffe. They have reenacted the initial shooting. It is implied in the book that she had figured out who wasn't in the room before her death. 

Letitia is approached by Emma, disguised as a woman by the name of Julia Simmons. She wants to have some of the inheritance, so she can become an actress. While she claims that she was not involved in the incident, she can fire a gun. Things fall into place in the story when a cat knocks over a glass of water and all the fuses in the house shut off. 

All the people involved in the initial incident are gathered together. Mitzi, the maid, calls out that she had seen Letitia commit the murder! She is sent into the kitchen and the meeting continues. The Inspector announces that Edmund is in fact Pip and must have committed the murder; however, Phillipa (a widow staying at the house) admits she is Pip. The inspector switches and says that Edmund was trying to marry Phillipa in order to get the inheritance once Letitia was dead. Edmund is adamant that it is a lie. A scream is heard in the kitchen. 

As the group enters the kitchen, they find Letitia trying to drown Mitzi in the sink. It turns out that Letitia is in fact Charlotte. Charlotte took Letita's place after she died in Switzerland in order to obtain the inheritance. Shertz had to be killed because he worked at the hospital where Charlotte had a surgery, and he knew her. She hired him to act as the holdup man and blew the fuses by pouring water on the frayed cord. She slipped out and shot Schertz from behind. She cut her own ear with scissors in order to draw attention away from herself. It is revealed that Bunny was killed because she knew that Charlotte was a fake. Miss Murgatroyd was killed because she had figured out that Letitia's face had not been revealed by the torch light when the door opened. 

In order to draw out the murderer, Miss Marple convinced Mitzi to declare she had seen the murder. Edmund was also in on the ruse, but Phillipa was not, and her announcement almost messed up the mousetrap. At the end of the book Letita is arrested, Pip and Emma inherit the fortune, and Edmund and Pip get married.

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