Main characters: Jerry Burton
After a flying accident, the pilot Jerry Burton from London is rather badly injured. That's why his doctor Markus Kent advises him to spend some time in the country in order to promote the healing process. Jerry and his younger sister Joanna, who wants to accompany and look after him, choose the villa Little Furze in Lymstock, a quiet little town. The house belongs to Miss Emily Barton who will be staying at a friend's, meanwhile. She leaves her servant Patridge behind, to work for Jerry and Joanna. They soon get to know some inhabitants of the "village" as they call Lymstock. There are Mr. and Mrs. Symmington, for example. Richard Symmington is the solicitor of Lymstock. He and his wife have two sons, Brian and Colin, and Mrs. Symmington has another daughter from her first marriage, Megan Hunter. Even though Megan is already twenty years of age she is quite childish and immature and people even say she has got a low mind. Then there is Owen Griffith, the local doctor, and his sister Aimée. Further village inhabitants are Elsie Holland and Agnes Woddell, both maids at the Symmingtons', Mr. Caleb Calthrop the vicar, and his wife Dane as well as a rather odd man, Mr. Pye. One week after their arrival Jerry and Joanna get an anonymous letter saying nasty things about them. Having found out that this anonymous letter writing has been going on for some time, Jerry Burton gets more and more interested in trying to find out who is responsible for them. While discovering local scandals and so on, he gets to know Megan better. He realises that she is quite an intelligent and nice girl, though hardly anyone- except Joanna- thinks the same. And then, one day, Mrs. Symmington is found dead in her bedroom, cause of death cyanide as one knows from the inquest, holding as scrap of paper in her hand, saying "I can't go on...". Everybody thinks she has committed suicide due to an anonymous letter which has been found right beside her body. So they are not searching for a lunatic who writes anonymous letters, but for an- at least indirect- murderer. After this shock Jerry and Joanna invite Megan to stay at their place for some time in order to recover a bit. After Mrs. Symmington's death Jerry Burton gets even more interested in the whole affair and often interferes with Superintendent Nash's investigations with which one must say that he welcomes Jerry's help. Questioning a lot of Lymstock's inhabitants he discovers that most of them accuse Mrs. Cleat, the witch of the village as they call her. Admittedly she is odd, but Jerry and Superintendent Nash agree that she is very unlikely to be the one they are after. The letter writer, however, doesn't stop his nasty business. Superintendent Nash is quite sure it must be a woman because of certain clues. They still don't have any concrete suspicions, when a week after Mrs. Symmington's death Megan returns home from Little Furze and the next day she finds Agnes Woddell's body in a cupboard below the stairs. Symmington's maid has rung Patridge the day before and has told her she was worried about something and would be coming round, but she never came. Another inspector arrives to enlighten the crime. This inspector Graves and Superintendent Nash suppose that Agnes Woddell had to die because she had seen the letter writer and therefore the indirect murderer of Mrs Symmington. It was her day out and she went to see her boyfriend, but they had a row and so she returned early. Sitting by the window and waiting for her boyfriend to come and apologize she must have seen a person putting a letter into the letterbox. That's why, a week later, getting all this straight, she had to die before she could say anything. What follows is a number of suspicions. But all this seems to have a good side as well: Megan and Jerry get to know each other even better when he takes her for a trip to London one day (he has to see his doctor Marcus Kent). This trip changes Megan in a very positive way, and just as nobody expects it, Superintendent Nash proclaims that they have got her. Aimée Griffith is the one they have been after for so long. But is she really able to kill somebody? Miss Marple, who is visiting the Calthrops at the moment, doubts it and wants to know everything about the murder. The Calthrops invite Jerry and his sister to tea and he tells Miss Marple a dream he had some days ago. These words mix Miss Marple a little bit up, and she starts to think. After some more investigations, she knows who the murderer is and tries to explain it to the others. Jerry had indicated the whole thing to her. He saw perfectly the relationship of one thing to the other, but he just hadn't enough self-confidence to see what those feelings of his meant.
It is for her so absurdly simple, because you have to keep an absolutely open mind. It comes out that Mr. Symmington murdered his wife because he was in love with Elsie Holland, his maid. He wanted everything, his home, his children, his respectability and Elsie. Therefore he created a non-existent anonymous letter writer. That's why the police suspected a woman and not him. He just put the cyanide in the top cachet of the ones she took in the afternoon when her sciatica came on after lunch.
When he heard that Agnes Woddell wanted to tell something to Partridge, he thought she knew something. That's why he killed her!
So the mystery of the anonymous letter writer and the murder was solved and the daily humdrum returned to Lymstock.