In the novel The Murder at the Vicarage, Lawrence Redding is an artist, and the lover of Anne Protheroe. Together they plot and murder her husband. He uses the shed in the garden at the vicarage as a studio.
Lawrence is described as having "an undeniably attractive personality". He is about thirty years old, has dark hair, and brilliant blue eyes. He is athletic, a good shot, an amateur actor, and a good storyteller.
Lawrence is in love with Anne Protheroe, and Reverend Clement catches them kissing in the studio. Reverend Clement advises him to leave St. Mary Mead,
Lawrence owns a Mauser pistol, which he says is a souvenir of the war. He keeps it on a shelf in the sitting-room of his cottage.
On the day of the murder, Reverend Clement receives a telephone call asking him to go to Lower Farm, as Mr Abbott is dying. However, on arriving at Lower Farm, he finds Mr Abbott well, and Mrs Abbott denies having made the call. On returning to the vicarage, he meets Lawrence coming out of the vicarage, and feels that Lawrence looks like a man on the point of going mad. Reverend Clement later discovers Colonel Protheroe in the study, dead from a shot through the head.
Lawrence confesses to killing Colonel Protheroe, and brings his gun to the police. However, he is cleared because Dr Haydock says that the murder could not have been committed at the time Lawrence claimed to have done it. Lawrence then tells the police that he met Anne in the studio on the day of the murder, to say goodbye to her. He says that he went for a drink, and then returned to the vicarage, where he saw Protheroe dead. Lawrence was shocked to discover his pistol beside the Colonel.
Revered Clement later finds Lawrence carrying a large stone in the woods. Lawrence says that he is going to present it to Miss Marple, for her rock garden.
Lawrence goes to Old Hall to ask the female servants if any of them overheard anything of the conversation between Mrs Lestrange and Colonel Protheroe the evening before the murder. He learns from Gladys that it was not a peaceful conversation, and that Mrs Lestrange had wanted Colonel Protheroe to do something, and he had refused.
It is later revealed that Lawrence and Anne had plotted the murder of Colonel Protheroe. Lawrence made the telephone call asking the vicar to go to Lower Farm, to get the vicar out of the way. He then hid his gun in a potted plant by the window in the study. Anne came later, and used the gun to shoot her husband. She and Lawrence then met at the studio, and then left together, and were seen by Miss Marple.
Miss Marple suggests that Lawrence later returned to the vicarage, picked up the gun, and took the note Colonel Protheroe had written. In its place, he left a forged note.
Miss Marple had heard that Lawrence had visited Mr Hawes. She suspected that he had substituted a cachet of Hawes' medication with one of his own, and planted Colonel Protheroe's note in the pocket of Hawes' dressing-gown. This was to attempt to pin the blame on Hawes.
Miss Marple also suggests that the large stone that Lawrence was carrying had been something he had set up in the woods, to create an explosion which people would interpret as the sound of a shot from the woods.
Portrayals[edit | edit source]
In the ITV 2004 adaptation of the novel (Episode 2, Season 1 of Agatha Christie's Marple), Lawrence Redding is played by Jason Flemyng. In this adaptation, he knows Miss Marple quite well and often confides in her. His background is slightly different from the original novel. Here he is an ex-soldier who knew Anne Protheroe and had a relationship during the Second World War. However he was posted as missing in action. After the war, he re-appeared, somehow having survived. By this time, Anne Protheroe had already married Lucius Protheroe. She read about "a new artist" who had "reappeared" on the art scene and tracked Lawrence down and persuaded him to settle in St. Mary Mead where they continued their relationship. The show ends with him and Anne being executed for their crime.