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The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries) Paperback – April 12, 2011
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“Agatha Christie has made it awfully hard for the rest of us, because whenever we think of a clever twist—she’s already done it.” (Elizabeth Peters, New York Times bestselling author of the Amelia Peabody novels)
“Genuine old-crusted Christie.” (Time magazine)
“Professional detectives are no match for elderly spinsters… it is hard not to be impressed.” (Times Literary Supplement (London))
“One of the most ingeniously contrived of all her murder stories.” (Birmingham Post)
From the Back Cover
It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing an evening dress and heavy makeup, which is now smeared across her cheeks. But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry? The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery . . . before tongues start to wag.
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The novels featuring Miss Marple are:
1. The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple Mysteries)
2. The Body in the Library (Miss Marple Mysteries)
3. The Moving Finger: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
4. A Murder Is Announced: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
5. They Do It With Mirrors: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
6. A Pocket Full of Rye: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
7. 4:50 from Paddington (Miss Marple Mysteries)
8. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (Miss Marple Mysteries)
9. A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
10. At Bertram's Hotel (Miss Marple Mysteries)
11. Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)
12. Sleeping Murder (Miss Marple Mysteries)
Miss Jane Marple is just such a fluttery old lady and she is often over-looked or dismissed. But not by retired Commissioner of Scotland Yard Henry Clithering, who admires her powers of deduction and her ability to see through subterfuge. And not by her female friends who know that NOTHING gets past Jane Marple!
This is a fine mystery. There are two murders (both of young women) and a good variety of suspects. One of the victims is a dance hostess - pretty and possibly conniving. The other is a teen-aged Girl Guide (Girl Scout, we would say) who has nothing particularly out-standing about her. Since the dance hostess has attracted the attention of a wealthy older man, several people have a motive for getting rid of her. Was the younger girl's death simply a coincidence or is there a deranged killer loose in the English countryside?
One interesting thing is that this book was published in 1942, when England had been involved in WWII for several years. Christie's husband was away at war and she was working in a London hospital. But WWII is completely ignored in this story. When there is mention of "the war" (and the effects it had on one suspect) they are talking about WWI. So was this book written in the 1930's and not published until later? Or did Christie think that her readers would like to escape from the horrors of war and remember a happier time?
I like all of the Miss Marple books, but this is one of my favorites. Some of the characters are stereotypes - the bluff manor-house owner, his gardening-mad wife, the eager-beaver police inspector - but there's always some truth in all stereotypes or they wouldn't exist. The examination of the Jefferson family and the tragedy of trying to live in the past is touching and thought-provoking. Old Dame Agatha may not have been a great writer, but she was as shrewd as Miss Marple herself and her depth of knowledge about human nature makes all of her books worth reading.