The Body in the Library

  • Miss Marple
  • Novel
  • 1942

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, 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.

Read an extract

What I feel is that if one has got to have a murder actually happening in one’s house, one might as well enjoy it, if you know what I mean.

Mrs Bantry, The Body in the Library

More about this story

One of Miss Marple’s finest cases, here we see her at the height of her female intuition, an inconspicuous elderly lady who can investigate undetected. Several other detectives get involved in the case - almost as many as there are suspects. Of course, it is Miss Marple who will unveil the ultimate clue.The novel was first released in February 1942 in the US and later that year in the UK. There is a rare example of Agatha Christie name checking herself, via the voice of Peter Carmody, who claims to love detective fiction and has signed copies by Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers among others. The novel’s title was an in-joke between Agatha Christie and her character Ariadne Oliver, who reveals in Christie’s earlier work Cards on the Table, that she herself had written a crime novel titled The Body in the Library.

Professional detectives are no match for elderly spinsters… it is hard not to be impressed.
Times Literary Supplement

It was adapted for TV in 1984, starring Joan Hickson as Marple, her first appearance in what would become an acclaimed role for her. It was broadcast in three parts over the Christmas period of that year. 2004 saw a more radical adaptation, with Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. It featured several well-known British actors, including Ian Richardson and Joanna Lumely. BBC Radio 4 dramatised the story in 2005, with June Whitfield reassuming her role as the radio Marple.

Did you know?

  1. In The Body in the Library Agatha Christie name-checks herself through the voice of young detective fiction aficionado, Peter Carmody. Peter, intrigued by the murder at hand, boasts of having signed copies of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers among others.

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