Friday, June 21, 2013

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Linnet Ridgeway has it all: beauty, brains, money, and a new, handsome husband.

Unfortunately, her husband's jilted ex-fiance - and Linnet's former best friend - has followed them on their Egyptian honeymoon cruise and seems to be shadowing the couple at every turn.  When Linnet is murdered, the killer seems obvious - until she produces an airtight alibi.  Soon all the other passengers on board, including an American lawyer, a nervous chambermaid, and a communist are suspects.  Hercule Poirot must call upon all of his skills of reason and deduction to break this case before the murderer strikes again.

After Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile is my second favorite Hercule Poirot book.  I don't think I've ever been shy on how I've expressed my feeling towards the Belgian detective, so I don't see a need to reiterate them here.  Within the pages of this book though, everything that normally annoys me with him, goes right out the window.  For whatever reason, Poirot shows an almost softer side, along the same way he did in Peril at End House.  I just reread the review I did for that one, and for some reason I didn't seem to touch upon that aspect.  Now, I really can't talk about it without giving some things away, but I'll do my best to keep it as generic as possible.

In both books, Poirot has a fondness for the murderers.  You can tell that he feels for them, and in Death on the Nile, tries to steer them onto a different course, albeit subtly.  There seems to be an almost paternal interest on his part, though watered down from what most of us would associate with that word.  It's that softer side of him, albeit a small side, that I find myself drawn to when it is shown to his reading audience.  It's a side that Colonel Hastings can bring out of him when he is around, but most of the time it's only caught in faint glimmers or gestures.  With Death on the Nile, it seems to come out more, and I almost get to the point where I like Poirot, as opposed to just respecting his mind and abilities.  Dont' get me wrong though, the arrogance and superiority are still there, but seeing a more three dimensional detective helps me ignore it more than normal.

As far as the mystery goes, which I won't tell you anything about, it's typical Agatha Christie.  And by that, I mean it's brilliant.  The slight of hand Christie displays with her plotting and story development is genius at times, and she doubles down here.  I still remember the first time I read this book, and the way I reacted when the solution was presented.  I never saw it coming, but when I pondered on it a bit, it was the only solution possible given the way she developed the story and it's characters.

And I want to end on a quick side note.  One of my favorite characters in the novel is Salome Otterbourne, a famous romance novelist who specializes in making her books as filled with sex as possible.  The woman has sex on the brains, and is a raging alcoholic.  If she wasn't such a dysfunctional character, she would be hilarious to be around.  If there is comic relief to be found in this book, it's when Salome is presenting herself to the world.  She was played beautifully by Angela Lansbury in the 1978 movie version, pure perfection.

And if any of you watched her TV show, Murder, She Wrote, you may have witnessed what I think is a little homage to that role.  In the 14th episode, "My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean", of the first season Jessica, a mystery novelist is on a cruise ship with her recently widowed niece.  Here niece is subsequently terrified at the end, and in order to get a confession from culprit, Jessica acts a drunk and speaks in much the same manner as Salome Otterbourne.  It's a hoot to watch.

Challenges: VM (Murder on the High Seas)


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I'm hoping to read many many A.C mysteries soon. I've been hoarding them for a future feast:) (I have this one as well-sounds good)

bermudaonion said...

Murder on the Orient Express is the only Christie book I've read much to my mother's chagrin.

carol said...

I need to get back to reading some of my old favorites.

Nise' said...

It has been so long since I've read Agatha's books. I loved that I never figured it out before the final revelation.

Heidenkind said...

I just read the first Tommy and Tuppence book and LOVED it. I really need to get on reading more of Christie's novels. So far I've only read Orient Express (in French--long story), the first Hercule Poirot, and Secret Adversary.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I really enjoyed reading this review. I haven't read anything by Agatha Christie yet but I own this one and your review made me excited to start it!

Staci said...

Loved your review and also the comment you left me earlier this week to get my butt into gear on reading my AG books!!! I will, I promise!

JaneGS said...

I loved your analysis of the attraction Poirot holds for Christie fans:
>It's that softer side of him, albeit a small side, that I find myself drawn to when it is shown to his reading audience.

That's an interesting observation and one that makes me want to not only reread Death on the Nile (it's been decades!) and watch that star-studded movie. Thanks for the clip!

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I have fallen behind on my Agatha Christie reading, but I admit that this is one of my film adaptation, that is. I'm glad that you came close to 'liking' Poirot. *wink* I know he is not a favorite. Of course, I love him.

Another great review, Ryan. I really need to start writing more reviews. Half of the books I read from my own library I end up not reviewing. Another symptom of burn out, I suspect, or just having no time. HaHa!

TracyK said...

This sounds like a great book to pair with watching the movie. Unfortunately, I want to read the Hercule Poirot series in order, and I have a few to read before I reach this one.