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The Body in the Library
Production Notes The Actors and their Roles Story Synopsis Who's Who Agatha Christie Links + Bibliography Discussion Miss Marple Home MYSTERY! Home The Body in the Library
Story Synopsis [imagemap with 8 links]

Story Synopsis

Plot Revealed Below!

When the mysterious body of a glamorous blonde is found in the library at Gossington Hall, Dolly Bantry knows she will need all the help she can get to her clear her husband Arthur's name -- so she calls her dear friend, Jane Marple, whose brilliant mind can solve any tiny village riddle as well as plumb the depths of human iniquity.

Miss Marple is eager to help and arrives immediately to examine the body, much to the annoyance of Colonel Melchett, the chief of the County Police and a good friend of Arthur Bantry, who has personally taken on the murder case.

Independently of one another, Melchett and Miss Marple both wonder if local bad boy, Basil Blake, has anything to do with the mystery, as he is well known for his loud parties and bottle-blonde girlfriends.

While Basil refuses to let Melchett through the front door, canny Miss Marple has already found an excuse to take tea with him. Both Marple and Melchett find that his blonde girlfriend, Dinah Lee, is still very much alive.

Meanwhile, Inspector Harper (from the next county) hears that a blonde dancer called Ruby Keene, employed at the Majestic Hotel, has gone missing. The description fits the body found at Gossington Hall and the deceased's cousin, Josie Turner, is brought in to identify the body.

The identification is positive and Josie, the dance and bridge hostess at the Majestic who was responsible for getting Ruby her job there, recalls the events of the preceding night. When Ruby didn't arrive to do her midnight dance exhibition with Raymond Starr, Josie was annoyed and presumed Ruby was out with a man.

On the discovery that Conway Jefferson, an extremely wealthy old friend of the Bantrys was the person who first alerted the police to the fact that Ruby was missing, Dolly decides that she and Miss Marple must go to the Majestic Hotel and do a little sleuthing themselves. On the journey to Danemouth, Dolly explains the tragic story of Conway Jefferson's life. A V2 bomb hit his house during the war, killing his wife, son and daughter and Conway was left a cripple. He now clings to a surrogate family, which consists of Mark Gaskell, his daughter's husband, and Adelaide Jefferson, his son's wife. Adelaide also has a son, Peter Carmody, by a previous marriage, who looks to Conway as a grandfather.

On arrival at the rather grand Majestic Hotel, Dolly secures an interview with Conway and introduces Miss Marple to Adelaide and Mark. Much to Dolly and Miss Marple's surprise, Conway reveals that he was about to adopt Ruby and leave her his fortune. His money will now revert back to Mark and Adelaide. Miss Marple immediately realizes that this is the obvious motive for Ruby's murder. But the medical evidence clearly puts the time of death between 10pm and 11:30pm and Mark and Adelaide were in full view at the hotel, so it can't have been either of them.

Melchett and Harper arrive and interview the rather forgetful George Bartlett, a hotel guest and the last person to see Ruby alive. He clearly doesn't have an alibi, but what is his motive? The same goes for Raymond Starr, the rather attractive Argentinean dance and tennis coach -- who disappeared for about half an hour at around eleven o'clock. But again, the name Basil Blake crops up. It appears that he has been to the Majestic in the last few weeks...

Melchett's heart sinks when he sees Miss Marple in the reception area. Begrudgingly he takes tea with her where she politely suggests that he is 'barking up the wrong tree' if he thinks that the crime was spontaneous.

As Melchett and Harper seem to chase their own tails, Marple and Dolly subtly gather clues from all the suspects. Miss Marple is intrigued to find out that fingernails were found in Ruby's room and even more intrigued to see Raymond coming out of a middle-aged lady's bedroom. That night a charred body is found in George Bartlett's burnt out car. Miss Marple is sure that it will be the body of a missing girl guide, Pamela Reeves, and that the two murders are connected.

Miss Marple reveals to Harper that Raymond Starr is a gigolo and that explains his movements on the night of Ruby's murder. Acknowledging Miss Marple's powers of detection, Harper asks her if she will speak to the girl guides and see if she can find out any more information about Pamela Reeve's death.

Miss Marple easily works out which of the girl guides is hiding something and extracts information from her. Apparently Pamela was spotted by a film producer and was on her way to a secret screen test when she disappeared. Miss Marple, who has fit almost all the clues together, realizes that she must warn Basil Blake immediately.

In Blake's cottage, Miss Marple confronts Basil about his conduct on the night of Ruby's murder and guesses that he found the body on his heath rug and moved it to Gossington Hall when he was under the influence of alcohol.

With Dolly in tow, Miss Marple gathers Melchett and Harper together to reveal who really murdered Ruby and Pamela...

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