Monday, March 28, 2016
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
Synopsis From Dust Jacket:
A young actress, Arlena Stuart Marshall, is brutally strangled on the cliffs of a seaside resort. Each of the guests at the Jolly Roger Hotel has a compelling motive, including Arlena's brand new husband, who seems to be the only man on the island not utterly distracted by her beauty. It is obvious to all the visitors that Patrick Redfern was violently smitten, much to the distress of his own wife. And the women hotel guests saw the frivolous and flirtatious starlet in a rather different light. Only Hercule Poirot, who has come to the Jolly Roger for some much-needed relaxation, can sift through the murderous secrets and macabre clues to unravel the mystery at this secluded playground by the sea.
It's been a while since I read my last Agatha Christie mystery, and since I'm supposed to be reading them in order, I figured I better get my ass in gear. I wish I could tell you a definitive reason why I've been neglecting not only my favorite author, but my own personal self challenge, but I'm not sure it's all that easy to explain. I know part of it was the romance binge I was on for a while, a binge I'm starting to week myself off of, but I think another part of it was that Evil Under the Sun was the next book.
I've previously read Evil Under the Sun, in my preblogging days that is, and it has never been a favorite. I know a lot of Dame Agatha fans that love this one, but I've just never really bought into it all that much. I'm not saying this is a horrible book, because she really never wrote a horrible one, but it is a humdrum outing for me. When I picked it up this time, I did try to put my previous opinions aside, and go in with an open mind. And I can admit, that there were certain aspects of the plot and characters that I was able to enjoy more this time around, but it's that blasted ending I just can't get my mind around.
Setting aside the fact that I actually like the killer(s), though they end up being a truly evil person, I think she dropped the ball on setting up the motive, and even a bit with the killer's backstory. A backstory that Poirot discovers in the end, though why he even looked in the area he did, is still beyond me. Because the killer's past behavior is so important to the solution, I felt it should have been fleshed out a bit more I would have liked to have at least seen a few glimpses of that evil in the day to day actions of the killer(s). In my mind, there isn't even a hint of it, but who knows, maybe they are so infinitesimal, I'm still missing the clues after my third read of this one. And as far as the solution itself, the way the crime was committed, it's so far out there, it just boggles my mind. I guess, yes, like all of her solutions, it was physically possible for everything to happen in the manner it did, but it's an even bigger stretch for me with this one. I can't fall into the willing suspension of disbelief that is so important when reading fiction.
With all that against it, I would still take Evil Under the Sun over most of the "Cozy" mystery stuff being written today.