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Evil Under the Sun
on 12 April 2015
This classic Poirot novel started life as a short story, “Triangle at Rhodes,” which was published in 1936. Four years later, in 1940, the plot had been re-worked into this excellent novel – one of the best featuring Poirot in my opinion. The beginning of this novel sees Poirot on holiday at The Jolly Roger Hotel, Smuggler’s Island. It is a wonderful location for a mystery; an enclosed community at the seaside. Of course, seaside holidays had been popular in the 1920’s and, with foreign travel only available to the very rich, most people holidayed at home. However, we are aware immediately that this is a very exclusive location – not only because Poirot would certainly be very careful about where he stayed, but because other guests include a wealthy American couple, the Gardeners, and the beautiful actress, Arlena Stuart (now Marshall). A young couple, Christine and Patrick Redfern, are also staying at the hotel, and it is soon clear that Patrick Redfern is smitten with Arlena Marshall something which she does nothing to discourage...
Agatha Christie really builds the tension in this novel, as the relationships between the various characters make the holiday atmosphere uncomfortable for those residents at the hotel, who are all too aware of Christine Redfern’s embarrassing situation. To add more intrigue, one of the guests – and a favourite of Poirot’s – is the successful dress designer Rosamund Darnley, who is in love with Arlena’s husband, widowed Kenneth Marshall. Also on the holiday is Kenneth’s daughter, sixteen year old Linda Marshall, who has a very difficult relationship with her stepmother. Of course, Poirot’s holiday is disturbed by a murder and, although Christie’s novels are always exquisitely plotted, this is a particularly interesting puzzle, with a great ending. I will not give the plot away – if you are lucky enough not to know how this novel ends, then it is an excellent introduction to Poirot and one of Christie’s best mysteries. Utterly enjoyable and full of great characters, this would make the ideal holiday read.