Gossington Hall, home of Dolly and Colonel Arthur Bantry, is disturbed one morning when the body of a young, platinum blonde girl is discovered in, yes, the library. No apparent connection is made between the location and the body and nobody recognises her. Luckily Dolly’s old friend, Jane Marple, has a few ideas…
Soon a second body is discovered and the focus of the investigation becomes the Majestic Hotel in Danemouth, and a tale of adopted young women and a possibly lost inheritance. But how on earth –and why – did that body end up in the library?
Wow, almost a fortnight since the last review. After a prolific start to the month, I’ve managed to finish one book in the last week, namely this one. A few reasons – primarily an attempt to get through a rather turgid affair of a mystery where nothing seemed to happen between 10 and 50% of the way through (can’t do page numbers with a Kindle!). Something might have happened after that but I couldn’t be bothered to find out. No names, no review, the usual deal.
So I resorted to a safe pair of hands, namely Dame Agatha, and Miss Marple – mainly due to the disappointment of They Do It With Mirrors. And The Body In The Library is one that I remember little of, so I thought I’d give it a spin.
I wonder… one of the criticisms often levelled at Christie is that her characters lack depth. It’s possible that this may stem in part from this book. It’s one of the better known Marple books – it was used to launch both the Joan Hickson Miss Marple series and the more recent ITV series (with a different murderer, no less). But apart from the set-up, of an unknown body discovered in a library, there isn’t much on display here to reflect Christie’s talent.
The characters aren’t particularly interesting – Jane Marple comes off well, but a lot of the suspects are just… there. The murder(s) happen, the police talk to the suspects a bit, and then Miss Marple reveals whodunit. But because I didn’t particularly care for the characters, I didn’t particularly care for the mystery. Once you spot the trick that Christie is playing with events – and it’s a pretty obvious one – the murderer becomes far too obvious.
I do wonder what the popularity of this one is – A Murder Is Announced is a far better mystery, for example – but it’s often cited as being one of the best Miss Marple books. It’s better than They Do It With Mirrors, true, but it’s not great.