Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

The Body in the Library
Description: The early morning hours at Gossington Hall have taken a sinister turn. The body of a beautiful stranger has been discovered sprawled in front of Colonel Bantry's library hearth. Perfectly posed and dressed to the nines, the stylish blonde appears to have a natural flair for glamour-even in death. But why was she there? Where did she come from? And who, in Gossington Hall, wanted her dead? Miss Jane Marple has her suspicions.... 

Stats: Mystery, 220 pages, First Published February 1924, Edition Published by Signet, January 2000.

My Rating: 3 stars

Agatha Christie knows a thing or two about creating an interesting mystery with a cast of characters a mile long. In the murder of a young, pretty girl the suspects are many and all are suspect in some respect, but only Miss Marple will solve the crime.

Unfortunately, compared to my previous experiences with Miss Marple, this book was a disappointment. The murdered girl was unspectacular, the characters were all somewhat unspectacular, and the way everything came together would have me interested one minute and disinterested the next. I think the main issue for me was not the mystery itself, but the way that the character of Miss Marple is fantastically misused. The mystery was well constructed and had all the inappropriate twists and turns, however I wanted something a little more

What I love about Miss Marple is the way that she investigates. For those unfamiliar, Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has enough experience to have had experienced it all. She knows human nature, she can spot a liar, and she knows how to follow clues in a humble way that makes her a marvel. No one sees her coming. What harm can an old woman do? Why not speak honestly, loosely, comfortably to a kind listener? 

In The Body in the Library the mystery does not follow Miss Marple's investigation, but the many various police officials on the case. I believe there were about three or four of them in total. I didn't care about them in the same way I care about Miss Marple. I don't know anything about them, although they do appear in other Miss Marple books and are familiar with her knowing ways. I wanted more of her. The way the police handle things is all very by the book, the real interesting insights come from the very few interactions Miss Marple has. When she's centre stage, things are intriguing. You want to know what she knows. 

The way the mystery ended was fun, I really wanted to know who did it. I just wish that the investigation was more captivating. The Body in the Library is a great little mystery that is easy to consume and just perfect for a cold winter night. For those in the mood for some unique British-speak murder, Agatha Christie is always perfection.

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