30. The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie (1942)

To be honest I could have put almost any Christie novel in this list, because for me the pleasure in reading them is pretty consistent. I love her for all the reasons that other people dislike her: the artificiality of her characters, the mechanical nature of the plots and the circumscribed world in which they take place. To me, detective fiction is all about creating a beautiful machine: you switch it on on page one, and it keeps working till the end. I don’t want extraneous nonsense like character development and moral ambiguity; I can get that elsewhere. So while I like Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers et al, Christie will always be the queen. I chose The Body in the Library because a) it was the first Christie I read and loved, b) it features Miss Marple who is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time and c) well, how could I resist a murder mystery set in a library?

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3 Comments

Filed under My top 100 novels

3 responses to “30. The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie (1942)

  1. god

    i prefer the murder of roger ackrooyd as the main character is narrating and LYING from page one. a hoot!

  2. David Benedict

    Even people who hate Agatha Christie have to recognise that the audacity of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is astounding – and all too often overlooked when people are discussing “the unreliable narrator”. But yes, Rupert, I too have a special fondness for a) Christie, b) Miss Marple and c) The first one I read which, in my case, was the wonderful 4:50 from Paddington aka Murder, She Said starring Margaret Rutherford. To this day, whenever I’m on a train and another one runs parallel, I remember it.

  3. I love Murder of RA as well. It always makes me laugh that it’s ALMOST allowed on to the the Eng Lit canon because of the unreliable narrator schtick as if the more traditionally-narrated ones aren’t quite CLEVER enough, they’re ONLY entertaining.

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