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!
Classic Poirot: a great mix of drama and mystery. 4/5 stars.
The blurb: The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting’ nothing is ever quite what it seems...
This review will be rather sparse to avoid any and all spoilers.
I read my first Agatha Christie last year: Murder on the Orient Express. I “only” gave that book 3 stars because I felt it lacked build-up: it was too economical with its descriptions of the setting and background to the murder. Death on the Nile, another Hercule Poirot mystery, lacks in none of these departments. The pre-death drama is top-notch and Christie gives us just enough descriptions of Egyptian temples and other tourist hot spots to create a sense of the exotic without turning the book into a travel guide.
In fact, this book contains a great balance of dialogue, narration and description. My only slight gripe – as with Orient Express – was that there were too many characters to keep track of. On the bright side, this does mean there are so many plausible suspects that the guilty party remains hard to guess. I felt the edition I read would have been improved by featuring a diagram of the boat, showing all the cabins the characters were staying in (Agatha Christie: Cluedo game board edition!).
Overall: a classic murder mystery with great pre- and post-death drama. I’m planning for my next Christie read to be a Miss Marple. Any recommendations?
Claire Huston / Art and Soul
The 1934 classic is a lesson in how to make the highly unlikely both entertaining and plausible. 3/5 stars.
It’s happened to us all. You’re on a luxury sleeper train travelling across Europe. One night the train gets stuck in a snow drift and someone gets murdered. All the passengers but one in that carriage are suspects. And, as luck would have it, the odd one out is Hercule Poirot, Belgian master detective. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
I think most people know, in general, “whodunnit” in the case of Murder on the Orient Express. But if they can remember all the ins and outs then they have a far better memory than I do. The devil is most definitely in the detail in this surprisingly short tale (only 250 pages). The sheer number of passengers/suspects means it’s quite hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s what, diverting our minds from asking questions such as: “Really?!”, “Would that ever happen in a million years?” and “Would even Sherlock Holmes be able to make such accurate intuitive leaps?”