Residents of Little Paddocks:
- Miss Letitia "Letty" Blacklock, owner, our hostess
- Dora Bunner, her ditzy companion
- Patrick Simmons, her cousin
- Julia Simmons, her cousin
- Mitzi, the paranoid maid
- Phillipa Haymes, widow, a boarder
- Colonel and Laura Easterbrook
- Miss Hinchliffe of Boulders Cottage
- Miss Amy Murgatroyd of Boulders Cottage
- Mrs. Swettenham
- Edmund Swettenham, her son
- Mrs. Diana "Bunch" Harmon, the vicar's wife
- Randall Goedler, deceased; former employer of Letitia Blacklock
- Belle Goedler, Randall's wife; near the end
- Sonia Goedler Stamfordis, Randall's sister
- Dmitri Stamfordis, Sonia's husband
- Pip and Emma, children of Dmitri and Sonia
- Rudi Schwerz, the victim
- Myrna Harris, his girlfriend, a waitress at The Royal Spa
- Inspector Craddock
- Miss Jane Marple
Locale: Chipping Cleghorn village, England
Synopsis: It is post-war England and things are still a bit austere. One parlor game amusement which is popular is the "Murder Game", in which one person is selected as "murderer" and that person chooses a "victim", and the remaining guests have to be the "detectives".
One day a classified ad appears in which "A murder is announced", giving time (6:30 PM) and place (Little Paddocks). The catch is that the owner of Little Paddocks, Miss Letitia Blacklock, knows nothing about it - but assumes a friend set it up; so she goes along in good fun and gets refreshments prepared.
Her friends arrive for the party. At 6:30 PM a man appears in the doorway. The lights go out. Then he fires two shots at Miss Blacklock - slightly wounding her. Then a third shot, and he himself falls dead. When the lights are restored, he is found to be a stranger. Who is he? Was his death accidental or murder? And what could the motive be?
The investigation leads back into the past, and conditions of a dead man's will.
Review: This is Christie's 50th mystery novel. The unravelling of the motive follows two parallel paths, due to a condition in a will. The deceased (Randall Goedler) specifies his fortune shall pass to either of two people, depending on who predeceases whom. This pits the two legatees against each other. It can be a bit confusing, but demonstrates the pitfalls of attempting to predict the future when composing a will. An enjoyable read, with Miss Marple making a bare minimum of appearances; but enough to point the way to the solution.