How did Ruby Keene come to be lying in the library of the well-known aristocrat and genteel family, the Bantry’s? What are the moral repercussions for Mr. Bantry? and, if every suspect in the case has an alibi, how can this case possibly be solved?
“Colonel Bantry, like nearly all retired military men, is really abnormally sensitive. He reacts very quickly to public opinion. He won’t notice it for some time, and then it will begin to go home to him. A slight here, and a snub there, and invitations that are refused, and excuses that are made, and then, little by little, it will dawn upon him, and he’ll retire into his shell and get terribly morbid and miserable.”
“Let me be sure I understand you rightly, Miss Marple. You mean that, because the body was found in his house, people will think that he had something to do with it?”
”Of course they will! I’ve no doubt they’re saying so already.”
Mrs. Bantry knows that in order to save her husband’s reputation, she needs this crime solved. But who is competent enough to resolve the question of where the body in the library came from in a timely enough manner so as to save her husband’s reputation? Thankfully, Mrs. Bantry has a good friend she can call upon; the ever-resourceful Miss Marple.
On the heels of the discovery of Ruby Keene, another person comes up missing, this time, a young Girl Guide (what we in the US would call “Girl Scout”). Is her disappearance somehow linked to the murder of a frivolous, ambitious young dancer?
Beneath all of these questions, however, there is an even greater mystery that introduces a moral dilemma: is murder ever justified, especially in the face of manipulation and clever deceit for personal and financial gain?
Agatha Christie not only is an expert at portraying human character at its worst, but she also is very good at introducing to the reader the question of what truly is permissible, and what are the parameters of justice.
Once again the author caught me by surprise, as my own (very uneducated) guess did not result in a successful solution to this fast-paced mystery.
“The Body in the Library” just might be one of Agatha Christie’s most cleverly plotted mysteries. On the other hand, I have quite a way to go before I read them all and make a final decision on which of her books engaged me the most.