Series: Miss Marple
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: lighthearted mystery, classic whodunnit, cozy mystery
Quick Review: This ticks all the boxes of the mystery novel but is so incredibly vivid and intensely real that it is well worth a look. It’s a refreshingly unique read!
It’s 7am, and the Bantry household wakes to find the body of a young girl they don’t know in their library. Shocked by this turn of events that seems so like a detective story, Mrs. Bantry calls in her close friend Miss Marple to help the police investigate and solve the mystery before gossip starts to harm her family’s standing in the village.
THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY is the second of the Miss Marple novels, and a lighthearted little mystery in classic Christie style.
The plot is pretty standard Christie fare: the body of an unknown girl is discovered in the library of one of the prominent families in the village. She is wearing an evening dress and lots of make up, and does not look to be the type to keep the same company as the owners of the house. Much of the impact of the death centers on the social ramifications, which I feel is a bit lost on today’s audiences. However, there are enough involved characters and motives to make this an interesting whodunnit.
The cast of this novel is actually surprisingly large, and with an especially robust police presence. The Bantrys are a fairly funny couple, the other cast is decent, with some highlights – I did greatly enjoy Raymond Starr, tennis instructor. My surprise at the large police presence was mainly because the investigation centered around them and not Miss Marple. I wanted to see more of her! That’s actually my biggest disappointment about THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY: I would have loved to follow Miss Marple’s investigation. Instead, she figures it out long before everyone else, but the reader is stuck following the foundering police officers.
Perhaps I just missed it, but – particularly in comparison to others in the very long list of Christie novels – the climax and ending of this story felt a bit flat. That could have been partly because action just kind of stops, and Marple then has to explain everything. I think this could have been remedied by having more of a focus on her in the first place.
While I wouldn’t place this one on the “Christie Essentials” list, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY is worth the quick read for a fun little mystery.