Sunday, August 26, 2012

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

cover of Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
I’ve been reading Poirot in the Orient, which is a three novel collection that features Hercule Poirot on trips in the Middle East. The first was Murder in Mesopotamia. I just finished the second in the collection, Death on the Nile. I’ve read this one a few times, and, of course, I watched the movie with Peter Ustinov as Poirot. The movie is somewhat faithful to the book, with some minor changes in the amount of characters. In Death on the NIle, we have some buildup before the story moves to Egypt. Linnet Ridgeway is a young, wealthy girl. She always gets what she wants, and what she wants is her friend’s fiance. Jacqueline de Bellefort winds up losing Simon Doyle to Linnet, and that’s when the problems start. Jackie starts to follow Linnet and Simon their honeymoon, trying to make them feel miserable. The honeymoon winds up in Egypt, where the Doyles, Jackie, Poirot, and a cast of others start to sail down the Nile. The others include an American lawyer who is embezzling Linnet’s fortune, a jewel thief, a kleptomaniac, and a person with drinking problems. These people add a wealth of potential murderers, and it’s only because of Poirot that the murder is solved. Colonel Race also makes an appearance in the book, and he aids Poirot in the investigation.

Because I was so familiar with the story, I read it with an eye to see if the clues add up. One of the raps against Christie is that she makes up things at the end to tie all the clues together. However, on the close reading of Death on the Nile, all the clues were there, and in fact, they seemed quite obvious. Christie did a great job with the mystery in this book. It ranks, in my mind, in the top ten of her books. The book was originally published in 1937, which is right before the golden era of Christie. Most seem to think that the books published from the late 1930s to 1940s are the best of the bunch. If you have only seen the movie, you should definitely read the book. I believe that you will enjoy the book and appreciate the movie even more.

The last in the collection is Appointment with Death. I just started reading that one today.

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