19 August 2021

Review: THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, Agatha Christie

  • this edition, an e-book in Kindle (Amazon)
  • Miss Marple #2
  • originally published 1942
  • ASIN ‏: ‎ B0046H95MC
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (October 14, 2010)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 226 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.

But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?

The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery… before tongues start to wag.

My Take

THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY portrays Miss Marple very differently to THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE which was published 12 years earlier.

The village hasn't changed much in that period of time, although I suspect that not so much time has elapsed in"village time". This novel is perhaps set 2 or 3 years later than THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE. Among my reasons for saying that are that the vicar and his wife, who made their debut appearance in the earlier novel, now have a son, a toddler. Among the cast of characters are people whom we met in the earlier novel: Colonel Melchett, Sir Henry Clithering, the local spinster "cats", and Superindent Slack.

The body on the floor of the Bantry's library at Gossington Hall is quickly identified as a young dancer missing from the Majestic Hotel in nearby Danemouth. Dolly Bantry and Jane Marple go to stay at the hotel to see what they can find out about the dancer. Dolly in particular is determined to prove that Colonel Bantry has nothing to do with the murder. The local cats are already saying there's "no smoke without fire".

Meanwhile Sir Henry Clithering answers a call for help from his friend Conway Jefferson at the Majestic Hotel. Jefferson had been planning to adopt the young dancer. On his arrival Sir Henry recognises Miss Marple sitting in a chair in the hotel foyer, and she is drawn in as a private consultant.

As  the novel progresses the plot becomes more complex. Another body, another girl turns up in a burnt out car, and there are plenty of suspects and red herrings.

And I need to confess that when the murderer attempted to do away with Jefferson, I did not have a clue about who it might be.

We learn a lot about how Miss Marple's brain works in this novel. Unlike THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE there is no narrator, and we see the action from a number of points of view.

Miss Marple says

The trouble in this case is that everybody has been much too credulous and believing. You simply cannot afford to believe everything that people tell you. When there’s anything fishy about, I never believe anyone at all! You see, I know human nature so well.

My rating: 4.5

See Agatha Christie books I've read

My previous review, written 11 years ago.

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