My first Marple and a classic whodunnit. 3.5/5 stars.
The blurb: When the Bantrys wake up to find the body of a beautiful, young stranger in their library, Dolly Bantry knows there’s only one person to call: her old friend Miss Marple.
Who was the young girl? What was she doing in the library? And is there a connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are discovered in an abandoned quarry?
Miss Marple must solve the mystery, before tongues start to wag, and the murderer strikes again.
This review is spoiler-free.
After I read my second Christie and second Poirot mystery – Death on the Nile – back in March, I promised myself I’d read a Miss Marple before the end of 2016. A kind fellow book blogger recommended The Body in the Library. Sorry I can’t remember who it was, but thank you!
As with the other Christie novels I’ve read, the story in The Body in the Library moves at a good pace and you can finish it in a few hours. I read it in one sitting and I think that’s how it would be best enjoyed. If it had been any longer I would have had to be more invested in the characters for it to keep my interest.
The mystery is as ingenious as you’d expect from Christie and she throws in some decent red herrings to keep us guessing to the end. For me, a particular highlight are the voices of the characters which instantly bring to mind a particular time and a particular class of people in England.
I’ve been wondering why I didn’t find the story more gripping. Possibly because I didn’t know anything about the victim and no-one seemed all that bothered she was dead, so why should I care who killed her any why? Also, with Murder on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express there is real passion behind the murders and a sense of lingering menace. In contrast, this story is like watching a group of people doing a cryptic crossword over cake and tea. As Mrs. Bantry says to Marple, she wants to do some sleuthing to make the discovery of a dead body in her library “fun”.
Overall: Another absolute classic if you like your fictional murders to be part of a clean, bloodless puzzle.
P.S. In other news, those of you living in the UK may have watched Andrew Marr’s 3-part television series on detective fiction (episode 1), fantasy sagas (episode 2) and spy fiction (episode 3). I’ve only see part 1 so far, but it’s very interesting and, unsurprisingly, talks quite a bit about Christie.
The series is called Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes and it’s currently available on BBC iPlayer if you’d like to catch up with it (sorry to those of you outside the UK).
Claire Huston / Art and Soul