With a beautiful title taken from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', 'Sad Cypress' is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books, and also one of the best to feature Poirot. It doesn't have the sheer audacity of, say, 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd', but as one of her more emotionally engaging books it's at least up there with 'Five Little Pigs' (another underrated story), or the beautiful 'A Murder is Announced'.
As the book opens, the main character Elinor Carlisle is on trial for her life. The courtroom setting doesn't really mean much one way or the other, it's merely Christie experimenting with a new kind of plot framing device. No, it is the mystery of Elinor's personality and her true motivations which keep the reader guessing continually throughout the book, and hungry to learn who really killed the poisoning victim, Mary Gerrard.
Agatha Christie is usually ignored by literary critics or dismissed as 'genre fiction', but she was actually a master at portraying a wide range of psychological types, and that (along with her cunning solutions) is probably the reason that she's still the bestselling novelist of all time. Although her psychological types can occasionally be a little unbelievable as flesh and blood characters, that certainly isn't the case here - 'Sad Cypress' contains some of her most memorable and vivid figures. It will definitely stick in your head for some time after you have read it.