I’m currently taking part in the Agatha Christie Readathon by James J. Cudney from the blog This Is My Truth Now.
This is the third review of four books by Queen Agatha. 🙂
The Body in the Library (1942) by Agatha Christie is an intriguing Miss Marple mystery where the body of a young woman is found in the library at Gossington Hall. It is the home of the Bantrys, friends of Miss Marple’s.
Following the discovery, Colonel Arthur Bantry is hugely under suspicion and his wife Dolly and Miss Marple fear that if the case is never solved there will always be whispering about him being involved which they know he would not be able to handle. Meanwhile Dolly is finding the whole business of a body being found in their library quite exciting and with Miss Marple is trying to find out who is behind the woman’s death.
There is a whole list of suspects which makes this book brilliant. There is the Bantrys, artist Basil Blake and the woman he is intimately involved with Dinah Lee, Conway Jefferson who was set to adopt the woman who they believe to be dead in the library dancer Ruby Keene, Jefferson’s son-in-law Mark and daughter-in-law Adelaide, Raymond Starr who is a regular dance partner of Ruby’s, Josie who brought Ruby up to live in the area and George Bartlett whose car went mysteriously missing the night of the murder. Add into this the disappearance of a Girl Guide Pamela Reeves who was last thought to be going to Woolworths and a body found in Bartlett’s burned out car believed to be Pamela and you have a classic Miss Marple on the cards.
There is also numerous detectives working on the case like Colonel Melchett and Inspector Slack of the Radfordshire force, and Superintendent Harper of Glenshire alongside retired head of Scotland Yard, Sir Henry Clithering but of course they are no match for Miss Marple who once again puts the case together for them. It was also lovely to see Griselda, the Vicar’s wife from The Murder at the Vicarage and my favourite character from that book, back in this book (The Murder at the Vicarage is of course next week’s book but I had read it before this book) and while the Vicar doesn’t appear in this book we see that they have had their son since The Murder at the Vicarage.
This story without giving too much away is one of Christie’s most heartbreaking novels. When you get to the end, you’ll know what I mean. But it’s a very sad ending and the way the murder was done was so ruthlessly horrible in particular in the case of young Pamela. But there’s much to be learned from that section of the book about being a bit cynical of peoples’ motives. But it’s really sad and sticks in your head after you have finished reading.
I don’t wish to give anything away here either but it was very interesting to read the thinking on marriage back then and I think we’ve moved on quite a lot since then thankfully. Another very interesting thing I noticed in my reading of this book was that Agatha Christie used her own name in this book when young Peter, Adelaide’s son said he had asked Agatha Christie for an autograph. Agatha, you old fame seeker! 🙂
There is a very interesting foreword to this book where Christie writes about where she got the idea for this novel. She says that she seen it as a cliche of detective fiction and wished the library to go in line with that but have the body as that of someone you wouldn’t expect to see there. She spoke about how the idea formulated from seeing an elderly man who was disabled at a nearby table who gave her the idea for Conway Jefferson and from there she began her plot.
A brilliant read as always. Very emotionally sad at the close but another masterclass from Agatha Christie.
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