One of the finest works of Agatha Christie, ‘Body in the Library’ holds your attention from the first chapter itself. For me, this chapter can be easily termed as one of the best opening chapters by the queen of mystery. The chapter not only impresses you with the brilliantly crafted lines, but also forces you to hook into the book from the first sentence itself. In addition, the chapter takes you straight into the murder scene. Compared to the other books of Agatha Christie, this book is much smaller in length. However, this smaller length doesn’t affect the quality of the book and you enjoy an almost perfect jigsaw mystery, which leaves you hanging until the end when all is explained.
Let’s have a look on the storyline. Colonel and Mrs. Bantry, wealthy and upright citizens of St. Mary Mead, wake up one day to find the dead body of a mysterious young blonde woman in their library. This mysterious girl seems to have been strangled to death. Neither Colonel Bantry nor Mrs. Bantry has any idea who she is and how she ended up in their library. Their servants also have no idea about the girl. While Colonel Bantry calls the police, Mrs. Bantry calls her friend Miss Marple to solve the mystery of this girl. And, thus begins the search for both the identity and the murderer of this young blonde. Like all Christie novels, a number of characters who might have actually committed the murder of this girl appear one by one in the book. A real twist in the story develops when another body of a girl is discovered very soon. The death of this second girl turns up to be connected with the death of the first one. The story then progresses neatly and smoothly within the plot and finally ends with a well executed ending.
Miss Marple takes a back seat in this novel as she doesn’t make much of an appearance until the second half of the book. Most of the space of the detective work in the book has been done by three police officers. However, whatever presence Miss Marple has in the book, she truly shines. Her village life comparisons to point out the possible reasons for the behaviour of different people in the book are really worth reading. I don’t know why many readers don’t find Miss Marple as compelling as Hercule Poirot. For me, she has her own charming ways of solving murder and I like her as much as I like the Belgian detective. Even if you don’t like her, it is really hard to not to get impressed by her common sense and observation.
In the ‘Foreword’ of the book Christie says that she wanted to take the old classic scenario of a body in a library and turn it into an interesting mystery for a long time. Christie certainly seems to have succeeded in spinning an attention-grabbing murder mystery by taking a conventional setting of a murder. In fact, the title ‘The Body in the Library’ appears in an earlier book of Christie where it has been shown as one of the novels written by Ariadne Oliver.
This is also one of the rare books by Agatha Christie where you find the mystery queen mentioning herself. Read the book to find that out.