The Body in the Library

Cover of The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. Cover of words on shelves by Michael P. Correy.
Cover by Michael P. Correy. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Body in the Library

Author: Agatha Christie

Nutshell: Miss Marple’s friend, Mrs. Bantry calls in a panic. There is the body of a dead woman in her library! Neither she nor the Colonel have ever seen the woman before. Will Miss Marple please come and have a look round to see what she thinks of the affair?

The dead girl turns out to be Ruby Keene, a dancer for a nearby hotel, who was mixed up in nothing, and nobody has anything remarkable at all to say about her. Miss Marple must use all her insight to crack this case.

Read-alikes: Dorothy Sayers is very like Christie. Their faintly satirical portrayal of their characters is similar.

Ramblings: You know, I could have sworn that I read this book once before, but I recognized none of the contents. In fact, the only Christie plots that I remember are from television.

This Christie plot, though, is very good. Of course. Its unique in that there’s no motive for nearly the first half of the book, and nobody who fits the crime right up until it’s solved. Miss Marple, at one point, says that the people solving the crime are doing too much believing of people who are lying, but that doesn’t help at all, because nobody seems to be lying at all. It turns out that the lie came at a perfectly unexpected point, and only Miss Marple noticed that it was even possible.

One cannot get upset at Miss Marple for knowing things and not sharing them, though, because she is such a sweet little old lady. Of course she isn’t going to say all she thinks until she’s sure she knows it. She’s only trying to be fair. It would be upsetting in anyone else, though, because anyone else would be being smug.

I think this Christie has a very modern appeal. It’s not a village mystery, it’s not heavily “English” in language, I’d say, and the plot involves the sorts of motivations and movie producers that modern audiences are familiar with. I’d recommend this Christie for an introduction for fans of crime TV or modern-set mysteries.

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