Sunday, September 2, 2012

Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

cover of Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
This is the final book in the Poirot in the Orient collection. I hate the character of Mrs. Boynton, who eventually is murdered, and I admit that I look forward to her murder. In the book, Mrs. Boynton rules her step-children and own child with an iron fist, causing them all much mental anguish. Lennox, Raymond, Carole, and Ginevra (Mrs. Boynton’s biological daughter) all suffer mental torment at Mrs. Boynton’s hand. They are captives, unable to escape. The only person not affected by Mrs. Boynton is Lennox’s wife, Nadine, but Nadine is troubled because she loves Lennox and can’t get him to escape. Mrs. Boyton usually keeps the family at home, but she decides to take a trip to the Middle East. The trip gives her a chance to test and strengthen her hold on the family. However, revolt is in the air, and Hercule Poirot overhears Richard and Carole talk about how they must murder Mrs Boynton in order to escape. When Mrs. Boynton dies on a trip to Petra, the local authority, Colonel Carbury calls in Poirot to find out what really happened. Additional characters in the book are:
  • Sarah King, a young doctor who has fallen in love with Richard (and vice versa)
  • Dr. Gerald, a French psychologist who is fascinated by the relationships in the family and troubled by the anxiety he sees
  • Jefferson Cope, a family friend who is in love with Nadine
  • Lady Westholme, a member of Parliament, who just happens to be on the trip
  • Miss Pierce, an older woman who also just happens to be be on the trip
I have to admit that this is not the first time I read the book. I knew who the murderer was, but I have to admit that I remember from the first that I was truly surprised at whodunit. Christie knows how to present the psychology of the various characters. Mrs. Boynton oozes evil. You want someone to kill her and to make her suffer the way she made others suffer. But as Poirot says, murder is murder. The murderer should not be allowed to walk free just because the person deserves to die. Of course, Nadine Boynton brings up the case on the Orient Express, but Poirot dismisses that as an aberration in his usual technique. If you haven’t read it, you should. See if you can figure out the murderer. The clues are there, and Christie tries to get the reader to see it by calling out the significant points. All I know is that Appointment with Deathis an enjoyable and satisfying mystery.

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