[SOLD OUT] The Body in the Library Book Club: The Rosenbach’s Mystery Book Club

Date / Time

  • August 13, 2024
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • September 10, 2024
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States


  • Admission is $25 per session, $75 for series. Members receive exclusive discounts on our programs and courses. Not a member? Learn more.
  • This is an in-person program at The Rosenbach. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society on May 31, for Rosenbach members on June 7, and for the general public on June 14.
  • This program is for those 18 and older.

This program is now sold out.

Season One: Agatha Christie and Her Influence

Was it a candlestick in the dining room? A wrench in the parlor? A knife in the library? Come to the Rosenbach’s mysterious new book club to find out! 

Few genres of popular literature have more lasting appeal than the mystery. From classic works whose characters have entered the pop culture domain (like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes) to exciting, newer authors bringing diverse perspectives to the genre today, mysteries and thrillers use captivating tales to interrogate the human condition in its many complexities. This new book club will meet in the historic Rosenbach house to discuss works representing a variety of approaches to the genre. At least one session per season will include the opportunity to study an object from the Rosenbach’s remarkable collection of rare books and manuscripts.   

The first season of The Body in the Library Book Club is titled “Agatha Christie and Her Influence.” We will launch the club with one of the most famous works of crime fiction ever written, Murder on the Orient Express (1934), before exploring two more recent mysteries that build on the motifs that Christie established in this and other novels: Japanese novelist Yukito Ayatsuji’s The Decagon House Murders (1987) and British novelist Anthony Horowitz’s The Magpie Murders (2016). 


Session 1, July 9: Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express 

Join the Rosenbach for a journey into one of the whodunit genre’s most beloved classics! Stranded because of a snowdrift, the legendary Orient Express becomes the scene of the grisly murder of the American millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett. The murderer doubtless remains onboard the train, where, fortunately, the world-renowned private detective Hercule Poirot is also a passenger. The indefatigable Poirot must identify the murderer before anyone else suffers Ratchett’s violent end. 


Session 2, August 13: Yukito Ayatsuji, The Decagon House Murders 

The Decagon House Murders is widely considered a Japanese cult classic but was only recently translated into English. Inspired in part by the celebrated Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, author Yukito Ayatsuji offers a chilling tale of multiple murders in a mysterious house. Participants in a college mystery fiction club rent a home on Tsunojima Island, where a series of murders had taken place the previous year. Unfortunately for the students, the ten-sided house’s association with horror is just beginning.  


Session 3, September 10: Anthony Horowitz, The Magpie Murders 

Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling novel is a 21st-century update of the traditional English detective story, with a cast of characters inspired by some of Agatha Christie’s best-known literary creations. The Magpie Murders offers a story within a story. Our central character is editor Susan Ryeland, who receives a book manuscript from famous detective author Alan Conway. Conway’s story reads like any English country house mystery: a murder takes place at Pye Hall, and a well-known detective is on hand to investigate. Yet the more Ryeland reads the manuscript, a dreadful feeling grows upon her that Conway hid an all-too-real treacherous tale in its pages. 


Image credit: Oliver Herford, “The Bibliofiends,” artwork featured on the cover of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, The Unpublishable Memoirs, (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1917), Rosenbach call no. Ro1 917a copy 2. 


Book Club Facilitators

Dr. Petra Clark is a librarian, educator, literary historian, and lifelong fan of the mystery genre. Her first bookish obsession as a child was the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, and the opening sequence of PBS’s Mystery! is etched into her brain. While she did not grow up to be a detective, Petra’s career path still lets her flex her investigative muscles. She earned a Ph.D. in Victorian literature and art in 2019, and she currently works in the Special Collections department at the University of Delaware Library. Tracking down clues while conducting historical research is one of the things she likes best about her work as a scholar and librarian—and it has the benefit of not (usually) involving murder! She looks forward to discussing fictional plot twists and red herrings with all of you.

Dr. Samantha Nystrom has been an avid fan of mysteries since childhood, with Scooby Doo introducing her to the genre. She learned to interrogate what makes a good mystery during her time at the University of Delaware, where she received her Ph.D. in English Literature. There she became an archival detective, going into special collections to uncover traces of information lost to time. While at UD, she taught classes ranging from film studies to British Literature to composition, guiding students how to unlock clues in a text to better grasp a complete picture of what the work is doing. She currently lives in New Jesey and is a writer at Thomas Jefferson University. When she isn’t reading and writing, she can be found playing Scrabble, coloring, going on a walk, or investigating the goings-on of local birds with her bumbling, feline sidekick, Percy.   

Dr. Alexander Lawrence Ames, Director of Outreach & Engagement at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, has been eagerly reading mystery novels since his teenage years, with an early interest in the Hardy Boys followed by a teenage fondness for Agatha Christie’s signature characters: Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. He holds an M.A. in American material culture, an M.A. in history, and a Ph.D. in history of American civilization and museum studies from the University of Delaware. At the Rosenbach, he works with his colleagues on gallery exhibitions, tours, and programs including book clubs like this one. When not facilitating book club discussions or leading Behind the Bookcase tours, you’ll likely find Dr. Ames sleuthing in the Rosenbach’s incredible collections, magnifying glass in hand, trying to solve some historical mystery. Dr. Ames is definitely not the culprit, and you can absolutely trust him. 


Book Purchase 

The Rosenbach has partnered with Harriett’s Bookshop of Philadelphia to supply copies of book club selections at reasonable prices. Order your books here: https://bookshop.org/lists/ladies-of-the-house-of-love-book-club. Learn more about Harriett’s Bookshop here: https://www.oursisterbookshops.com/.