An intriguing advert in the Personal column of the local Gazette reads: “A murder is announced and will take place this Friday at Little Paddocks at 6.30 pm ...”

The residents of Chipping Cleghorn, a quintessential English village, are fascinated by this astonishing announcement and gather in excited anticipation ...

And so begins another compelling Agatha Christie murder mystery ... forensically plotted, rich in period detail, hugely entertaining, featuring amateur detective Miss Marple.

Written in 1950, the Salisbury stage set reflects the period beautifully, augmented by atmospheric 50s costumes, furniture, and social attitudes.

Among 12 superb actors, particularly outstanding are Lydia Piechowiak as spiky feisty cook and house servant Mitzi, Tom Butcher as frustrated yet well-meaning Inspector Craddock, and Louise Jameson as crime-solving Miss Marple.

The relationship between professional policeman Craddock and amateur sleuth Marple is testy, grudgingly mutually appreciative, and ultimately of course successful.

And if the pace occasionally slows, and the play now seems over-wordy, relying on too many mistaken identities, Agatha Christie – creator of The Mousetrap, Murder On The Orient Express, and And Then There Were None – continues to baffle, intrigue, and entertain.

Interestingly, for a girl who never went to school, a woman whose first novel was not published until she was 36, Agatha Christie wrote over 80 crime novels and short story collections, entertaining the world with million-sellers.

A Murder Is Announced runs until this Saturday, matinees Thursday and Saturday.

Brendan McCusker