The dead body found in the library conceit was old even back in 1941 when The Body in the Library was first published. Good old Agatha got ahold of it and decided to make it her own. There is indeed a body found in a library at the start of this book, but in quite different circumstances than you’d expect. The Bantry’s wake up one morning in their country estate to a servant telling them, So there’s this dead body in the library?? They understandably freak out. The dead body belonged to the former Ruby Keene, a young woman whom neither Colonel nor Mrs. Bantry have seen before in their lives.
The police are called of course, but Mrs. Bantry is good friends with Christie’s spinster amateur detective, Miss Marple, and she gets it into her head that if there’s going to be a murder in her house, she “might as well enjoy it.” So she calls in Miss Marple. While the police are busy investigating, the two of them undertake their own backyard investigation.
My only real complaint is that Miss Marple is barely in the book at all. Maybe that’s just how Miss Marple stories work, with her puttering around innocuously in the background of the “real” goings on, yet somehow always managing to put things together before everyone else does. But whatever the case, she doesn’t really start being an active part of the plot until almost halfway through the book.
The mystery here was a good one. I was surprised multiple times, and as usual, I didn’t figure out the murderer. I am the historical worst.
Something that always gets to me when I listen to Agatha Christie books (Stephanie Cole was a great narrator for the edition I listened to, FYI) is that it constantly reminds me of this weird tendency I have. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m always fighting this impulse to imagine people who lived a long time as serious and historical. But one of the joys of reading Agatha Christie is that she and her characters are so alive and witty and full of vim and vigor (there’s a throwback phrase for you). The stories take place 80+ years in the past, yet they still feel timeless.
I read four of her books in 2015 and they were all great. Can’t wait to read more in 2016.