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It is seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.
But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later found in a burned out car in a quarry.
The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery - before tongues start to wag.
(Pictured above are Gwen Watford as Dolly Bantry, and Joan Hickson as Miss Jane Marple).
Inspector Slack only appeared in three of the original books -The Body in the Library, The Murder at the Vicarage, and The Thirteen Problems - but he is used in five stories in this excellent series.
The location for the fictional village of St. Mary Mead was Nether Wallop, in Hampshire.
Sir Henry Clithering: May I make a suggestion?
Conway Jefferson: Do.
Sir Henry Clithering: Did you know that downstairs in the foyer is one of the most formidable criminologists in England?
Conway Jefferson: Really?
Sir Henry Clithering: Oh yes. And I could lay you almost any odds you would never recognise her as such.
Conway Jefferson: Her?
Sir Henry Clithering: Mmm. There she sits, an elderly spinster, sweet, placid - so you'd think. Yet her mind has plumbed the depths of human iniquity and taken it all in a day's work.
Conway Jefferson: How do we involve her?
Sir Henry Clithering: (indulgently) I expect she's involved already. She lives in St. Mary Mead only a couple of miles from Arthur and Dolly's place. It's extraordinary, she knows the world only through the prism of that village and its daily life. By knowing the village so thoroughly, she seems to know the world.