Reading the Detectives discussion

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Group Challenges > The Body in the Library

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
This is the main February book for the Miss Marple challenge. Published in 1942 this actually follows the second published Miss Marple book, "The Thirteen Problems," which is a collection of short stories. We will have a discussion thread for "The Thirteen Problems," as an 'extra' read.

Please avoid posting spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


message 2: by LovesMysteries (last edited Jan 30, 2017 09:13AM) (new)

LovesMysteries  | 234 comments I remember reading that Agatha Christie thought The Body In The Library was the best opening she'd ever wrote. What do you guys think? Are there other openings from Christie's books that you believe top that?

I believe the opening from "Library" is very memorable and who can forget that line from the maid, "Oh ma'am, ma'am, there's a body in the library!" (which I believe was perfectly executed in the 1985 Joan Hickson version, whereas, in the McEwan version this line wasn't said at all -- the maid just screamed when she found the body and that's about it).


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I do enjoy that yes :D It seems to sum up the fun that Christie could have with murder!


message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments I read this several years ago, and re-read this month. Both times it was very enjoyable. The opening scene is perfect. If you were just awakening, would you believe there was a body in your home?


message 5: by LovesMysteries (last edited Jan 30, 2017 11:11AM) (new)

LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Deborah wrote: "I read this several years ago, and re-read this month. Both times it was very enjoyable. The opening scene is perfect. If you were just awakening, would you believe there was a body in your home?"

I like how Christie takes something normal and ordinary and mixes it up with something unusual and completely unexpected!


message 6: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8323 comments Mod
I agree it's a fantastic opening - the way she isn't sure if it's a dream or not is so well done.


LovesMysteries  | 234 comments It seems that Christie had lots of fun writing this book, particularly (1) the opening scene, (2) taking a device of a body in a library which at the time she wrote it has become a cliche, (3) and the scene when Peter Carmody speaks to Colonel Melchett and Superintendent Harper and Peter says, "Do you like detective stories? I do. I read them all and I've got autographs from Dorothy Sayers and AGATHA CHRISTIE and Dickson Carr and H. C. Bailey. Will the murder be in the papers?" Funny how Christie mentions herself here!


LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Has anyone seen the Joan Hickson and the Geraldine McEwan adaptations of The Body In The Library? Which actress who played Dolly Bantry do you prefer: Gwen Watford or Joanna Lumley?


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
I can't see Joanna Lumley as Dolly Bantry somehow. Although I like her as an actress, I just see Dolly Bantry as very sensible and tweedy.


message 10: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments LovesMysteries wrote: "Deborah wrote: "I read this several years ago, and re-read this month. Both times it was very enjoyable. The opening scene is perfect. If you were just awakening, would you believe there was a body..."

I agree. Plus it smacks a bit at the upper classes. What do you mean you don't know what's going on in your own home?


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
Well, if I had a library, I wouldn't expect to wake up and find a body in it either to be fair.


message 12: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I did love Joanna Lumley as Mrs. Bantry, but then again, so did I with Gwen Watford. Two different portrayals, but both good. Both seemed to portray the relish with which Mrs. B (I know she hates being called that) enjoys the sleuthing, in such a different fashion.


message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 179 comments I love the opening - seems like a dream - and how Dolly starts out by assuming they can all enjoy the murder while making fun of the cliche "a beautiful blonde. like the books again"

Also love the intro to Miss Marple - the phone is ringing but not at a normal time, so worrisome!


message 14: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments Jackie wrote: "I love the opening - seems like a dream - and how Dolly starts out by assuming they can all enjoy the murder while making fun of the cliche "a beautiful blonde. like the books again"

Also love the..."



We've probably all had that phone call at a worrisome time, along with the ensuing adrenaline rush


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
Interestingly, in The Thirteen Problems, Dolly Bantry is disbelieving when Sir Henry Clithering asks for Miss Marple to be included in a dinner party but, by this novel she is the woman that Dolly Bantry turns to. This turnabout probably makes more sense to readers who read the earlier short stories and it seems that Christie did quite a lot of thinking about these characters before she settled on them.


message 16: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 310 comments Susan wrote: "Interestingly, in The Thirteen Problems, Dolly Bantry is disbelieving when Sir Henry Clithering asks for Miss Marple to be included in a dinner party but, by this novel she is the woman that Dolly ..."

That's the interesting thing about reading the books in order isn't it. I've assumed before now that there's no character development but subtle changes can already be seen from Miss Marple's first appearance.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I read The Body In The Library just before 13 Problems (currently reading that) and it actually refers to one of the short stories! It might be worth mentioning that you do need to read the short stories first!


message 18: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Vinicius | 169 comments I will start reading The Body in the Library. I changed my mind, reading the messages. I will start yet with the short stories. Sound the right path.


message 19: by Jill (new)

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1815 comments I read the 13 problems first and it definitely builds the characters for the following books


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
I don't think it is essential to have read the short stories first. They do build the characters, but we opted to do that as an 'extra' book as, with the Wimsey challenge, not many people actually read the volumes of short stories. Novels are certainly more popular, but we did mention that the short stories come first in the challenge thread.


message 21: by John (new)

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 30 comments I finished The Thirteen Problems yesterday, and read the first quarter of The Body in the Library today.

It would be good to read the short stories first, to make one understand the attitudes of Mrs Bantry and the retired commissioner. But not vital.

I don't usually read short stories, but this lot make a very coherent, puzzling and funny whole. I laughed a lot!


message 22: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments It is in the short stories that we first are aware that Mrs. Bantry hates to be called Mrs. B.!


message 23: by Lesley (last edited Feb 04, 2017 01:04AM) (new)

Lesley | 383 comments I think the opening is brilliant. Just waking up, expecting to have tea brought in, but instead having a distraught Mary announcing a body in the library - a blonde woman! A reluctant Colonel Bantry as opposed to his wife, Dolly, eager to do some sleuthing and seek Miss Marple's help. Quite a change of attitude from when we first meet Mrs Bantry in Thirteen Problems.

I rather like that I've read Thirteen Problems first and have been introduced to future characters. It will be nice to watch their development along with Miss Marple's character through to the lady we know now. Although, I think Miss Marple is probably just about complete as she's already getting that little sting in the tail with some of her vague, benign comments.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
The next novel, The Moving Finger, was published the same time as The Body in the Library (both in 1942) so that will be interesting, as Miss Marple should be much more defined by the next book.


message 25: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Jill wrote: "I read the 13 problems first and it definitely builds the characters for the following books"

One feels much more like one knows the characters when one reads this after the short stories.


message 26: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8323 comments Mod
Pghfan wrote: "I did love Joanna Lumley as Mrs. Bantry, but then again, so did I with Gwen Watford. Two different portrayals, but both good. "

I've just watched the more recent version and thought Joanna Lumley was great - I'd like to see the earlier version too, though. Hopefully it will turn up on TV before too long!


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Ella's Gran wrote: "I think the opening is brilliant. Just waking up, expecting to have tea brought in, but instead having a distraught Mary announcing a body in the library - a blonde woman! A reluctant Colonel Bantr..."

I agree with you. It's beautifully written and totally realistic.


message 28: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I believe Christie said this was one of the best openings of all of her books.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
It is wonderfully done and introduces the mystery perfectly.


LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Pghfan wrote: "I believe Christie said this was one of the best openings of all of her books."

She did say that and it's definitely unforgettable too! I think another memorable one, though there are many Christie fans that may disagree is Destination Unknown. It's a unique kind of story, including the opening.


message 31: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments LovesMysteries wrote: "Pghfan wrote: "I believe Christie said this was one of the best openings of all of her books."

She did say that and it's definitely unforgettable too! I think another memorable one, though there a..."

Destination Unknown has grown on me- I didn't enjoy it that much the first time I read it, but have enjoyed re-reads - especially because of the plot twists.

The only AC I have never been able to enjoy is The Big Four.


message 32: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments I have been waiting for the audiobook at my library but there are still 2 people ahead of my in the queue so I have decided to just reread my old paperback edition. I actually remember this one fairly clearly (or at least I think I do - maybe I will find out differently!).

I read Thirteen Clues for Miss Marple several years ago -- is this the same as The Thirteen Problems? I guess I should really ask over in the other thread...


message 33: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
I think it is a different book, Leslie. I found a book called Thirteen Clues and the stories were listed as:

Tape-Measure Murder
- Strange Jest
- Sanctuary
- Greenshaw's Folly
- The Case of the Perfect Maid
- The Case of the Caretaker
- The Blue Geranium
- The Companion
- The Four Suspects
- Motive v. Opportunity
- The Thumbmark of St. Peter
- The Bloodstained Pavement
- The Herb of Death
Is that the same as your copy?

The stories in The Thirteen Problems are:

The Tuesday Night Club
The Idol House of Astarte
Ingots of Gold
The Bloodstained Pavement
Motive vs. Opportunity
The Thumb Mark of St. Peter
The Blue Geranium
The Companion
The Four Suspects
A Christmas Tragedy
The Herb of Death
The Affair at the Bungalow
Death by Drowning


message 34: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1275 comments I found I have the 13 Clues book but still haven't been able to locate 13 Problems. I know I have read it before. But maybe they have it over at the library. I have been stalling on buying any new books (physical) this year. Not sure how much longer I can hold out. So I may look for it at one of the online stores I frequent.


message 35: by Elsie (new)

Elsie Stoltzfus | 14 comments Jan, in the US The Thirteen Problems is called The Tuesday Night Murder Club (or something like that)


message 36: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1275 comments I haven't been able to find it under either title.


message 37: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 351 comments There are two Miss Marple short story omnibuses (that I know of), that way you'll also be set for the second short story collection later this year.

- Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, ISBN 978-0062073716
- Miss Marple and Mystery, over 50 Stories.
That one has other (Non-Miss Marple) short stories as well, but they're all given in chronological order and equally fun! Also, that edition is available on amazon for kindle download!


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
I will make sure I list the story titles for anyone that is reading from a collection and who wishes to join in.


message 39: by Wash your hands. (new)

Wash your hands. (washyourhands) | 37 comments I'll sort you out Jan. PM incoming.


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Simone wrote: "There are two Miss Marple short story omnibuses (that I know of), that way you'll also be set for the second short story collection later this year.

- Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, ISBN..."


Thanks for that -- our library didn't have the Thirteen Problems, but they DO have The Complete Short stories, so I put it on hold and can participate in the discussion after all!


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
The stories in this volume are listed above, Everyman, as well as in the Miss Marple Challenge thread.


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Susan wrote: "The stories in this volume are listed above, Everyman, as well as in the Miss Marple Challenge thread."

Thanks. That will be helpful.


message 43: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
Welcome, Everyman.


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
As we near the end of the month, just a reminder that the next read will be, "The Moving Finger."


message 45: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Susan wrote: "As we near the end of the month, just a reminder that the next read will be, "The Moving Finger.""

Already reading it- enjoying it so far and have forgotten the details so all the more fun. Great character study.


message 46: by Martha (new)

Martha | 13 comments Already reading it- enjoying it so far and have forgotten the details so all the mo..."

I just finished it last night and really enjoyed it. I had seen the TV episode many years ago and so I had a vague recollection of whodunnit, but the writing was so wonderful that I still loved it.


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
I have finished it too and I think there will be lots to discuss!


message 48: by Adrian (new)

Adrian | 135 comments I got a bit carried away and have just finished The Moving Finger as well. All 4 books have been excellent so far including the short stories.


message 49: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Adrian wrote: "I got a bit carried away and have just finished The Moving Finger as well. All 4 books have been excellent so far including the short stories."

You're just in time for the discussion.


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9319 comments Mod
Glad you are enjoying them, Adrian :)


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