The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie


The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie, 1942

My favorite quote: “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.” (I’ve always felt exactly the same way. Thank you, Agatha Christie, for making me feel a little less creepy about it)

Notable characters: Miss Marple, a spinster around whom everyone mysteriously dies — but who luckily has a talent for solving their murders; Arthur Bantry, retired army colonel; Dolly Bantry, his wife; Inspector Slack (who isn’t as much of a slacker as his unfortunate name implies), the official investigator

Most memorable scene: For me, it was when the charred corpse of a sixteen-year-old girl is found in a burnt-up car. I was like, ‘Daaamn, Agatha Christie …’

Greatest strengths: The mystery, of course. I didn’t come anywhere near figuring out who the murderer was in The Body in the Library (not that I ever do) but then, I suppose that’s the idea. And the worst part is, Agatha Christie is dead so if I ever do finger the killer (heh, finger the killer) I can’t even write to her and brag about it. And this is why I always have my Ouija board at the ready when I’m reading Agatha Christie

Standout achievements: For being 80 years old, The Body in the Library holds up considerably well. I’ve read a few Agatha Christie books that kind of lost me — for example, it took me years, YEARS, to figure out what the hell she was talking about when she kept mentioning a “phone box” in one of her books (it’s a phone booth — you know, one of those things Clark Kent liked to take his clothes off in … ) 

Fun Facts: In Agatha Christie’s foreword of The Body in the Library, she admits that actually finding a body in the library, however unlikely, is a cliche in the mystery fiction genre, and says that she wrote this book to turn the trope on its head. Personally, I don’t see how it’s a cliche. I’ve never even found a body in the pantry (and I look every day) let alone the library. So who are all these people who have a body in the library? And a better question than that: who are all these people who have libraries for anyone to even die in? If I build a library, will I at last find myself with a corpse in my house? Only Agatha Christie knows … 

Other media: Most notably, the 1984 BBC film, The Body in the Library, starring Joan Hickson in her first appearance as Miss Marple — which I really ought to check out. All told, I haven’t actually seen very many Agatha Christie adaptations

What it taught me: The Body in the Library is one of the books that taught me that when it comes to mysteries, the who is as important as the how. While The Body in the Library is undoubtedly considered a “whodunit,” it’s real strength, like much of Agatha Christie’s work, is the “HOWdunit.” To me, that’s where she really shines

How it inspired me: In my own murder mystery, Sleep Savannah Sleep, my main character, Jason, is reading a novel (Moonfall) by my collaborator (Tamara Thorne,) an idea that was inspired by one of the characters in The Body in the Library — young Peter Carmody, a mystery reader who says he has Agatha Christie’s autograph. The fact that she name-dropped herself cracked me up so much I had to find a way to put a spin on that. I didn’t name drop myself (I’m no Agatha Christie) so I name-dropped my collaborator. Which is kinda the same thing now that I think about it, but oh well … 

Additional thoughts: While a lot of folks might not agree with me, I think Agatha Christie’s female detective, Miss Marple, is a lot more fun and interesting than her male counterpoint, Hercule Poirot. I just never trusted that strange little man … 

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read The Body in the Library

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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