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The Body in the Library–a woman dies, and someone tries to find out who killed her.
I’m on a bit of an Agatha Christie roll recently. I’ve just finished The Body in the Library, and have just started The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. One of the things I love about Christie is the near impossibility to guess the outcome of some (read: most) of her works. The Body in the Library is no different, and though not my favourite Christie novel by some way, it was entertaining enough to be a page turner and interesting, a good diversion, but not a complete occupier as some Christie stories are.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let this be said: I prefer Poirot
As with the majority of the stories, the novel opens with a murder. Though we don’t see it, we soon learn that there is “a dead body in my library—my library” as Colonel Bantry, owner of said library, so eloquently puts it. More rational Mrs Bantry (who is responsible for the cracking quote recently) consults with her friend in the village Miss Marple, who has a knack for crime solving, and believes that the nature of people is the same anywhere. The body is named by police as Ruby Keene, dancer at a local hotel. Ruby had been in line to inherit from rich widower Conway Jefferson who had taken a fancy to her, inherit to the sum of £50,000…
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let this be said: I prefer Poirot. He’s funny, he is comical, he’s always smiling… His stories just entertain me so much more, which makes it a shame that I’ve had to move onto Marple for a bit. That’s not to detract from Marple, but Poirot is one of my favourite fictional characters, helped, no doubt, by David Suchet (whose portrayal is remarkably similar to the vision on one of the original covers).
Christie managed in this novel to do something she rarely does-she made me smile. In the book, a young boy is talking to a detective, and states: “Do you like detective stories? I do. I read them all, and I’ve got autographs from Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie and Dickinson Carr and H.C. Bailey.” I love a subtle nod from the author, and this is the first I’ve come across from Christie-I hope to find more.
I originally thought that the ending was impossible to get from the facts that we were given, particularly the evidence that Marple utilises. However, upon re-reading to check this fact, I discovered that it was so well embedded that I had passed over it. Some of the facts are given in such an offhand manner that it is near impossible for the reader to pay particular attention to them, a great feat from Christie.
In the end, I enjoyed this but didn’t love it. It was good, but it wasn’t Christie’s best, she has proven that she can be one of the greatest writers of all time at her best, and still a very good crime author at worst. Though it wasn’t bad, I just didn’t find myself enjoying it as much as, say, And Then There Were None.
Mrs. Bantry was dreaming.
Character development: Christie isn’t famed for giving her background characters depth, and it is no different here, and is particularly noticeable in the characters who aren’t major, but who figure fairly prominently in the plot: Mrs Bantry and Colonel Bantry really (having said that, the main character, Miss Marple, is-as always-very well done from Christie)-★★★½
Readability-very good, not hindered by the length, but the plot was far from being as ingenious as some of Christie’s finest works-★★★★
Overall-good, not great is the motto here. It’s interesting, but not fascinating, a page turner, but not riveting-★★★½ (70)
Have you read The Body in the Library or other similar books? Did you agree or disagree with my review? Please leave a comment or contact me, I would be interested to discuss it. Otherwise, please share and rate with the buttons below.