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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1942 Agatha Christie Limited (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

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A classic Christie

Narrator - Stephanie Cole

Narration - I was ok with Stephanie Cole's narration. I was not loving it, but I did not hate it. I found it to be suitable for the book, there was just something about it which I did not love but I cannot quite put my finger on what it was.

Characters - This was Christie's second installment in the Miss Marple series and picks up some time after the first. The characters were interesting on the whole for this book. Miss Marple was developed a bit more, but the primary focus was on the characteristics of the Jefferson family and the Bantry's. None of the characters were unbelievable, but somehow the Jefferson's seem to fall a little flat for me.

Plot - I would recommend reading this series in order as characters from one often pop up in later novels. If you do read them out of order it does not really inhibit your understanding of the current book but some of the references may not make much sense in bits. Overall this plot was fun and kept the reader engaged. I felt as though there were some elements which were a bit far fetched or ridiculous, but overall it was enjoyable. If you enjoy cozy mysteries from this era, you will likely enjoy this book.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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My First Agatha Christie

Being an avid lover of Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Amelia Peabody and Her Royal Spyness Mysteries (just to name a few favs), I knew it sacrilegious to not experience an Agatha Christie book. Though this is book 3, it was the first I listened to because I scored it in a BOGO sale almost a year ago. From reviews based on the series as a whole, I gathered that this book is unlike others based on how the story was told. There wasn't much of Miss Marple at all, but more of the other investigators solving the crime. I didn't mind because the mystery was really good!. To be honest, Im not sure if Im loving Miss Marple's character in general, but Im going to listen to book 1 before deciding. Even if I end up not liking her character, I'll still listen to the series because the twists, turns and then finally the 'who done it' really slaps you in the face at the end! This one hit me so hard I actually got confused and had to re-listen to the last 15 min to fully understand what had actually happened.
The book itself isn't cheeky like one can enjoy from Amelia Peabody or Her Royal Spyness, but it is as engaging if not more than a Sherlock Holmes. I suppose it nice to just have a good old fashioned mystery without the silliness once in a while. Regarding the narration - it was hit and miss in my opinion. The characters voices were so similar, I had trouble figuring out who was talking half of the time. Aside from that, Stephanie Cole did a really good job performing the story. Every character had life and it didn't feel like I was being read to, but more like I was watching from the wings. All in all, I'd say this is a good listen, but I might recommend listening to book 1 first to get the full Miss Marple experience - as stated by other readers of the series.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Classic Agatha Christie

Miss Marple solves her most famous case in Agatha Christie’s 1942 novel The Body in the Library. One morning, the servants at Gossington Hall, home of Colonel and Mrs. Bantry, get up to find the body of a completely unknown strangled platinum blond girl lying on the hearth rug in the library. Eagerly, Mrs. Bantry picks up her phone and calls Miss Jane Marple in nearby St. Mary Mead to come over and exercise her detection gifts. Inspector Slack, who was shown up by Miss Marple in the previous book, Murder at the Vicarage, gets right to work sending out notices of the young lady to neighboring towns. When asked by Mrs. Bantry to investigate the scene, Miss Marple makes a number of observations, some of which are seemingly unimportant but later prove essential to solving the case. In the meanwhile, the thoughts of Chief Constable Colonel Melchett and Colonel Bantry turn to a most disagreeable artist who works for Lemville Studios and has been parading a platinum blond around town. Could that girl be their mysterious victim? However a visit to Blake’s home reveals his blond alive and fighting angry with him.

It does not take long before Inspector Slack identifies the victim as Ruby Keene, a dancer at the Majestic Hotel, who disappeared the night before. When her cousin Josie comes to identify her, they learn that Ruby has been filling in for Josie dancing while Josie has had an injured ankle. This moves the case to the Majestic, so that is where Mrs. Bantry is determined she and Miss Marple must go.

When the police go to the Majestic, they learn that Ruby had been especially close to Mr. Conway Jefferson, a rich man paralyzed in a plane crash that killed his wife, son, and daughter. So now he travels everywhere with his son-in-law and daughter-in-law. He reveals to the police that he had decided to adopt Ruby and was going to leave her a great deal of money, leaving several people with possible motive to kill Ruby.

We are now introduced to Sir Henry Clithering, former head of Scotland Yard, whom we got to know in the short story collection The Tuesday Club. Coming at a desperate summons from Mr. Jefferson, Sir Henry proposes bringing in Miss Marple as a consultant, having spied her sitting in the library. This is where Sir Henry makes that famous comment about Miss Marple:

“Downstairs in the lounge, by the third pillar from the left, there sits an old lady with a sweet, placid, spinsterish face and a mind that has plumbed the depths of human iniquity and taken it all as in the day’s work. . . . Where crime is concerned, she’s the goods.”
This book well deserves its good reputation. It draws out the character of Miss Marple, often making statements that seem to be non sequiturs but which really get to the heart of the matter. We see her theory of human parallelism, that if one person reminds you of another, then the first person is likely to behave in a similar manner to the second. And in the end, Miss Marple solves the case, when the professional investigators acknowledge that they never would have been able to. The book contains a satisfying conclusion that makes us all slap our heads that we never spotted the solution ourselves.

It is interesting to note that this book was published in 1942, just at the height of World War II, yet there is virtually no sense of the war in the book. The one exception is when Miss Marple explains to Colonel Bantry that, far from being soft, Basil Blake had done ARP (Air Raid Precautions) work and at the age of 18 brought a whole family out of a burning building, only to have it crush him when he went back to rescue the family’s dog. But even here, the context is vague, and if you did not know the date of this book and the fact that the ARP was established in 1937, you could just as easily assume the war mentioned was the First World War.

Christie published 12 books during the war, yet only one, N or M?, touches on the war directly. I picture Christie as working hard to produce these books as her contribution to the war work by giving people relief from their fears and exhaustion and reminding them of the England that they were fighting to preserve. Then once the war ended, her books dealt pretty directly with the aftermath of the war, once again encouraging people that they were all in things together.

Another thing that stands out to my modern sensibilities is the cavalier attitude towards both being drunk and driving drunk. No one issues an objection to Blake’s driving drunk, and when Colonel Bantry learns of a troublesome thing Blake did while drunk, he reacts with understanding:

“Bottled, was he?” Said Colonel Bantry, with an Englishman’s sympathy for alcoholic excess. “Oh, well, can’t judge a fellow by what he does when he’s drunk? When I was at Cambridge, I remember I put a certain utensil – well – well, nevermind.”
To me, this response, especially to Blake’s driving drunk, is not only irresponsible but downright dangerous, but in 1942, especially in Britain, as the quote highlights, people didn’t recognize the dangers of drinking too much.

Here are just two other fun details where Christie seems to be enjoying playing with. Her 1936 Cards on the Table introduces her alter-ego, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, who writes famous mystery books, and the book A Body in the Library is mentioned as one of her most famous. Six years later, Christie names her own book the same thing. The other fun internal reference comes when the son of Mr. Jefferson’s daughter-in-law asks Sir Henry Clithering for his autograph. He says that he already has several mystery writers’ autographs, including that of Agatha Christie.

Stephanie Cole provides the narration of the audio edition of this book, and she keeps the book moving enjoyably. She becomes Miss Marple as she reads the part and does a great job creating voices for the other characters. The book is already a lot of fun, but Cole helps to keep it alive.

I really recommend The Body in the Library to anyone. It has such great characters and a fascinating plot. I can understand why this book is many people’s favorite Miss Marple book. I give it five stars!

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Top Notch

Love reading anything by Agatha Christie. Her work is superbly crafted, the characters are believable. Any mysteries done today owe her much. She is able to accomplish!ish more with less blood, gore, cursing, violence than writers today can do with all the shock value available to them.

The narrator was superb. Just the right touch of British upper class voice. Thank you so much for this very pleasurable experience.

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Well read Agatha Christie mystery

Stephanie Cole does a great job at creating different voices/characters. Miss Marple is an intriguing character as she solves mysteries using a unique approach.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very Good Christie Reading

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love Miss Marple, so I guess she was my favorite.

Any additional comments?

Very decent example of an Agatha Christie audiobook.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful!!

I loved the story for years and this version was superb! Ms Cole's reading was brilliant ! Agatha Christie is the queen of plot twists and was a genius!!! Loved it !

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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More Stephanie Cole!

I love the Miss Marple books, but so many of them are read by Emilia Fox, who did such an awful job with A Murder is Announced that I'm scarred for life. Stephanie Cole really has a voice and range well suited to narrating, making this book a delightful experience.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Implausible But Pleasant

This is not a must-listen, but it's good for when you just want something on that you don't have to really think about. I enjoyed it, even though the solution was rather implausible. (Mistaken corpse identification? Really? Even though cameras already exist and simply showing photographs of the deceased to friends and relatives of both deceased girls would have solved the mystery instantly?) There is more of Miss Marple in this volume than in Murder at the Vicarage, and that's a good thing for fans of the divine Miss M. And the beginning, if not the ending, is wildly creative for a dated mystery / for an Agatha Christie. The narrator was splendid and did the material--and all voices, male and female--ample justice. I probably will listen to the next book in the Miss Marple series.

3 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Jolly Good Murder

I really,really love the way this murder was told. The characters are so real and pop into your head like a movie.

Pay close attention so you don't miss any clues given. Maybe you can find the murderer like Mrs. Marple.

English country village, gossip, tragic circumstances that leave an old man feeliny lonely. Having no blood relatives left, he decides he is very lonely. Several people are found dead in this small village in England. Is it because they want his money? Do they want to get even with someone? Are they just some random madman who likes young girls? You will have to read and find the answers for yourself.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful