Agatha Christie novels are the standard against which all other detective novels I read are measured. Within her vast collection, I prefer the stories featuring Hercule Poirot, with his mustaches, love of hot chocolate and omelets, and his "little gray cells", but in a pinch I will pick up a Miss Marple. I always find Miss Marple novels to be a little bit sillier, but they are generally still rather clever and I get a huge kick out of Miss Marple's calling female characters who tend to date/marry often "nymphomaniacs." (Seriously, nymphomaniacs are brought up in almost every Miss Marple novel. It kind of makes me wonder what was going on with Dame Christie.) Sadly, no nymphomaniacs appear in The Body in the Library, but it still managed to be a highly entertaining read.
The Body in the Library begins with the corpse of a mysterious and unknown woman being discovered one morning in the library of a country manor near the English village of St. Mary Mead. The woman is dressed for an evening out in an evening gown and garish make-up, and has been strangled. The proprietor of the estate, Col. Bantry immediately falls under suspicion for the murder, but his wife, convinced of his innocence enlists the help of local spinster and amateur detective, Miss Marple, to help solve the case and clear his name and reputation.
This book was classic Christie fare. There are numerous suspects, both glamorous and crooked, all with motives and opportunities. The location shifts between an English country estate, a quaint village, and an expensive resort. The police bumble things up, and it comes down to Miss Marple to place all the pieces together and solve the mystery. It is comforting in its familiarity, though not entirely predictable. It is all things one expects from the queen of detective tales. Though I wish there had been a nymphomaniac.