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VINE VOICEon January 3, 2007
The well-ordered world of Colonel and Mrs. Bantry is turned on its ear one morning when the body of a young woman is found in their library. Neither the Bantrys nor their staff knew the young woman, Ruby Keene, a dance hostess at the nearby Majestic Hotel. Fearing what the whispers in the village will do to her husband's reputation, Dolly Bantry calls her friend and sleuth, Miss Jane Marple. She and Miss Marple check in to the Majestic Hotel and begin investigating. They meet Conway Jefferson, an old man who had been planning to adopt the victim, and his young in-laws, all survivors of an accident that killed Jefferson's children. Ruby's cousin Josie also works at the hotel, having gotten Ruby the job when she hurt her ankle. Additional suspects are the too-handsome dance instructor, a poorly-spoken young guest of the hotel, and a neighbor of the Bantrys who throws too many film industry parties his neighbors do not approve of. In the end, Miss Marple has the whole thing figured out well in advance of the police, who fall for an obvious red herring before she straightens them out.

Christie writes with typical British wit and humor, wry observations appearing here and there, such as a reference to a woman who regularly ministered to the poor, no matter how hard they tried to avoid her. Miss Marple's character is smarter than everyone else, but not in the least arrogant about it, finding effusive praise somewhat trying and deflecting any boastful claims about her abilities.

An enjoyable read, I recommend this book for a quiet afternoon or evening when it can suck you right into polite English country society and amuse with its light sense of humor. It's easy to see why Christie's books have such timeless appeal.
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VINE VOICEon June 5, 2007
In the author's foreword to The Body in the Library Christie writes: "I laid down for myself certain conditions. The library in question must be a highly orthodox and conventional library. The body, on the other hand, must be a wildly improbably and highly sensational body."

Christie kept to her conditions, and the results were very nice indeed. Whenever I read a Miss Marple book that I really like, I say that "this is my favorite Miss Marple". But I really think that The Body in the Library may well be my actual favorite Miss Marple. I have read that Christie herself thought that it was the best opening she ever wrote.

What makes it a favorite? The contrasts between a flashy dead girl and the house in which she clearly does not belong are a part of it. It allows for a very nice exploration of life in St. Mary Mead. The characters are also top notch. The Bantrys are warm and funny, but still have their own depth. Conway Jefferson, permanently in mourning, is one of the most interesting characters in the Christie body of work. Still very nice to read after all these years.
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on November 19, 1999
This story has lots of characters and plot twists. Readers will find Miss Marple and her investigation of the crimes to be highly involving. A classic story that will be enjoyed by every Agatha Christie fan.
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on August 3, 2001
I don't know why anyone would buy a book by Agatha Christie expecting sex and violence. Her style was to create the atmosphere of an English village before 1935 and to create a puzzle involving the death of someone in the village. Her detectives don't beat anyone up or make love to the suspects. Her detective is given the same clues that the reader sees, and in the last chapter, the detective weaves the relevant clues into the solution. In The Body in the Library, the detective is Jane Marple, an elderly spinster who uses a sharp mind so solve the puzzle. I like the early Jane Marple mysteries; The Body in the Library is fairly typical. You might find this book more enjoyable if you first read The Murder at the Vicarage.
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on August 27, 1999
I confess to absolutely loving Dame Agatha's Miss Marple books; I suppose I find the coziness of them soothing, or something. I especially enjoy this one because of the presence of Col. & Mrs. Bantry. Miss Marple's character becomes more rounded as we see her interact with her friends. I agree with those readers who noted less "action" in this book, but I don't think that dooms it to being a bad book--it's just a change of pace, which is often refreshing.
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on September 25, 1999
Don't listen to those people who said this was wasgreat!!!! I never suspected the ending, even though I know thatChristie always has the most unlikely person as the murderer. Read it!
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on February 20, 2001
Agatha Christie's the Body in the Library is truly a great mystery book. Of course, Agatha Christie does not need any additional praise from humble me to boost her reputation as an unparallelled author of mysteries. In this book, the corpse of a young woman is found in the library of Gossington Hall, the home of a well-to-do colonel and his wife. Miss Marple, in conjunction with the police, sets out to investigate. She comes upon many discoveries, and it can be seen that many parties benefit from the death of the woman in the library and/or have the opportunity to kill her. As the investigations progress, a possibly related incident occurs: a car burned to shrapnel in a neighboring region. Miss Marple, of course, with her impeccable investigative prowess and sharp eye for detail, solves the mystery methodically and impressively. The outcome is dazzling and this book is a great read for all mystery-lovers out there.
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on March 7, 1999
I have been a professional detective for over ten years and I can tell you that while the ending is surprising, the facts do not quite fit together as well as other Agatha Christie books. I would recommend it to the diehard Agatha Christie fans but would suggest that newcomers to Agatha Christie start with Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, or Death on the Nile.
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on November 19, 2003
As a teenager, I devoured one Miss Marple mystery after the other, feeling all the time slmildly uneasy for wasting my time on such fluff. But as I grow older and read more and better, and as I'm less influenced by the opinion of the powers that be, Agatha Christie grows in my mind.

Miss Marple is one of the most popular literary figures of the 20th Century, and yet she does not have the literary status of Sherlock Holmes. She's not required reading in high school literature courses, and she should be.

Agatha Christie created an entire litererary genre, which is not the same as the genre created by Conan Doyle (whose unabridged Sherlock Holmes I'ver read with great pleasure cover to cover three times). I think it's fair to say that in some significant way, her mysteries are more similar to the novels of Jane Austen than to those of Conan Doyle. Austen and Christie are fundamentally all about the motivations in human psychology. Where Holmes looks at a person's fingernails and deduces she is a musician, Christie watches a couple quarrel, and deduces they are really married, though they pretend otherwise. For her, such evidence is as solid as a footprint, and based on it, conclusions can be drawn.

Nevertheless, she does revert to simple forensic evidence before convicting anyone. Her plots are always complicated, but Christie always provides a unique solution. If she did not, she would not be great. In th case of the Body in the Library, there is as usual all sorts of evidence floating around to confuse you and occupy your mind, but 3 pieces of evidence in the end identify the murderer uniquely.

An inattentive reader might finish the book concluding that had Christie modified the plot just a little, the outcome might have been different. Not so. Not any more than Dorothy could have stayed in Oz or Hamlet survived. Christie creates an entire self-consistent and carefully planned microcosm of motivations. However, in this case, the identities are veiled, the dynamo which drives the plot is the who-done-it. In this regard, her genre, of course, is in Doyle's tradition.

And I so much like Miss Marple as a literary figure -- the enlightened being, British style. She lives in British society with its commoners and gentry, but is somehow neither. She easily consorts and sympathizes with both. She seeks neither wealth nor fame. She is content, fearless. Her mind and emotions are steady without being cold. And she does not pass judgement on her fellow man, though she stands unflinching in the face of justice -- Nemesis, she is called in one novel. She always knows who did it at the precise moment when all the evidence is in. In this case, that happened when the little boy showed her the clipped nails. Inspector Slack dismisses him as irrelevant. Marple does not. To her all men are created equal. Yet each is unique and understood on his or her own terms. Best of all, Christie accomplishes this through a truly endearing personality -- one with a penchant for tea and herbaceous borders, and a tendency, like most of us, to slip a stitch, though most of hers are literal rather than metaphorical
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VINE VOICEon September 24, 2005
When the body of a young blonde woman is found in the library at Gossington Hall, the home's owners, Colonel and Mrs. Bantry are mystified. They have never seen the girl in their life; how could she have wound up murdered in their house? Mrs. Bantry calls in her good friend Miss Marple to search out the truth that several detectives cannot find, and bring the murderer to justice before he kills again.

Miss Marple is just as puzzled as the Bantrys as to why the blonde was found in their house. The victim, Ruby Keene, was a dancer at the local hotel and had fallen into the affection of a hotel visitor, the wealthy and crippled Conway Jefferson. His son-in-law and daughter-in-law definitely had means to murder Ruby, but their alibis are solid. And the other suspicious characters without alibis, have no motives for the killing. Miss Marple has her work cut out for her, but as usual, she rises to the challenge and surpasses the efforts of the local constable and a retired Scotland Yard detective.

"The Body in the Library" is a quick-paced, witty mystery. Agatha Christie uses several cliches in wonderful and clever plot twists as the mystery surrounding the murder begins to unravel. The ending seems a little rushed, and there are often too many detectives looking into the case, which is perhaps why Miss Marple outwits them all.
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