Some days, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, of the village of St. Mary Mead, is the only remedy for the clamoring global village we inhabit. They serve tea in her world. And they converse. And she solves every glimmer of a crime, of course, without batting an eye or missing a cream scone. So The Body in the Library was the perfect read for today. The body, a young strangulation victim with dyed blond hair and chewed fingernails, turns up in the morning as the servants pull back the drapes in the library of a friend of Miss Marple. Lucky for the annals of crime. It’s a bit more comfy-shabby than Downton Abbey but the whole servant-local-gossip-our-kind-of-people thing is very much in evidence. So are a few telling clues that our sweet sharp-eyed sleuth spots promptly while everyone else is dithering about being official.
Can’t spoil this for anyone who likes Christie and hasn’t read it yet. But it’s safe to say that there is more than one body; there are numerous, logical suspects; social systems get slightly but never fatally deconstructed; and Miss Marple’s powers of deduction are formidable, as ever. The characters are either caricatures or incredibly shallow and insubstantial but that’s not why you were reading this murder mystery in the first place, is it? The plot is as tangled as a runaway ball of yarn–the motive is anyway–but Jane Marple remains undaunted and unravels the mess without breaking a sweat.
In the end, crime solved, justice served, and probably tea, too. It would be nice to have a shelf of unread Christie murder mysteries lined up, like a supply of Xanax, to blunt the sharp edges of too much real life. Real life is occasionally this theatrical and lethal–but never this neat.
The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries) Agatha Christie | Signet 2000