Review of ‘The Body in the Library’ (Agatha Christie)

Body in the Library

Image from Goodreads

The Body in the Librarya 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.

Opening words:

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)

Agree? Disagree?

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.

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8 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Body in the Library’ (Agatha Christie)

  1. Hi there! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your post. To say it is great (not just this post, all of yours!) is an understatement. You are really talented (:
    Because of how much I loved this post I had to check out your blog and I couldn’t help but follow you because your blog is both amazing and beautiful! I am so happy I came across your blog and I can’t wait to read more from you, so keep it up (:
    By the way this comment is towards all of your blog posts because they are all equally amazing and incredible (:

    Like

  2. I haven’t read any of her books. I’m not a big mystery fan. Historical stuff and fantasy are more my fare. But I like that she included a nod to herself in the book. Clive Cussler always wrote himself in a brief scene in his books (authored only by him). And the movies are famous for them. Hitchcock always appeared in a scene in his, as did Peter Jackson in his. He was a drunk stumbling down the alley in the opening Bree scene in FOTR. Great review again, Matt. You should get a job with a literary magazine doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it is nice the way she takes the mickey out of herself a little-it makes her more relatable I feel. I hadn’t realised so many other people did the same thing! Having said that though, one of the writers of ‘Sherlock’ stars as Mycroft Holmes… Thank you very much for the compliment!
      Best wishes, Matt

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so good at reviewing and writing I hope this time consuming hobby feeds into your course work.
    I don’t know if you have started to think about a CV yet; the work you do on the blog should definitely feature. In my opinion you demonstrate research, analytical, literacy and communication skills, all sought after by universities and employers. X

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah that’s the thing with his books, you really understand the lawyer stuff, I loved every one of his books. The first book that I read written by him was The Testament, and it remains my favourite after several books.

        Liked by 1 person

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