The popularity of Agatha Christie mysteries continues thirty years after her death. Thanks to new editions of the books published by Black Dog & Leventhan, my library has restocked the mystery shelves with a couple dozen new Christie volumes. Among these is The Body in the Library.
I have opened the library many times and never found a body in front of the fireplace. At Thomas Ford, we do have a fireplace but no blood stains. Actually, there were no blood stains on Colonel Bantry's library floor either. Obviously, the heavily made-up young woman with the bleached hair in the cheap white gown was strangled somewhere else. Who was she and why was she in the library? Mrs. Bantry knows the local police will botch the investigation, so she calls her friend Miss Jane Marple.
As I read the book, I started remembering much of the plot, which I saw dramatized on Masterpiece Theatre recently, but I did not recall who the murderers were. This may be because as a viewer and a reader I spent almost the entire story contemplating the clues and testing scenarios. Then Miss Marple reveals the solution and the book ends rather quickly. In Body in the Library, there is no great scene were all the suspects are brought together. Two weeks from now, I may have forgotten the solution and could read it all over again.
I was struck on this reading how Miss Marple is not a sweet old lady. She is the least trusting of all the investigators, attune to the moods of the suspects. She also tells about catching her housemaids at lies. Christie hints that the sleuth has perhaps gone through many maids. I do not think I saw that in the dramatizations.
Libraries may want to inspect their Agatha Christie collections now as there are inexpensive editions available to fill the gaps and replace the tattered copies. Your readers will appreciate them.