on 21 October 2014
‘Evil Under The Sun’ (1941) by Agatha Christie is an excellent whodunit. Having watched a set of Christie DVD’s I decided to read the books. ‘Evil Under The Sun’ is the best of the three I’ve read. Firstly a few differences between book and film: drugs, a fanatical vicar and a touch of witchcraft appear in the book while the film has to be content with an excess of show-biz types. The motive for the murder is easier to accept here than the film’s. One shortcoming in the book is that Poirot is supposedly on holiday (hard to believe) whereas in the film he’s there ‘on a job’.
In a typical Christie fashion the book is full of red herrings. In fact, one was so beautifully argued that I was tempted to consider the film had changed the killer! Poirot explains that detection is like doing a jigsaw puzzle, fitting in all the pieces and here are some of those he lists in this case: ‘Gabrielle No. 8, A pair of scissors, A broken pipe stem. A bottle thrown from a window. A green calendar......’ Enough to stretch anyone’s ‘little grey cells’. The characterisation is more complex than I’ve met in Christie’s work before – e.g. Arlena Marshall’s character is turned completely upside down to that as displayed in the film. If, like me, you find a film’s actors personifying a book’s characters, it works here even though the characterisation often differs – and that goes for the locations as well.
My title completes the Biblical reference to ‘Evil.... Under The Sun...’. The book is well worth 5 stars.
on 27 May 2012
Another classic mystery in which Poirot, holidaying on an island off the English south coast, stumbles into yet another murder investigation. Filled with Christie's trademark knowing wit, this is an interestingly different take on the locked room.
The setting of the story is ingenious, escaping the traditional manor house murder for a more approachable setting - the seaside - frees the characters up a little and makes them seem more open, as well as making the scenery feel more relatable for the modern reader.
There are possibly a few too many characters to keep track of, which I would like to blame for my complete inability to spot the culprit before the reveal. As it was they were once again a rich bunch with well planned back-stories to allow suspicion to fall everywhere.
Overall I enjoyed this return to Christie's works, and found this one to be more fulfilling than some of those I've recently read, although in my disappointment with not solving the mystery I wonder if some clues weren't left a little too late to reveal.
on 4 September 2004
When Poirot supposedly suffers a heart attack at an Argentinian restraunt , Miss Lemon books a holiday at a health resort on a small island on the South coast of Devon (accessible by a sea tractor).As soon as he disembarks, he is notices a huge amount of tension in the air.After conversing with other guests, Poirot discovers lethal ambitions in he minds of the guests.With one of the best solutions (in my opinion), an excellent, original setting, and an added sub-plot, makes this a must have for all Poirot fans.
on 3 February 2016
From start to finish, this story was nothing more nor less, than I have come to expect from the pen of Agatha Christie, together with the deduction and crime solving expertise of the pernickety Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the product of her vivid imagination.
I find that Agatha Christie’s characters always carry a certain amount of predictability, which is quite comforting to know and almost look forward to, when I pick up one of her books that I have not read before. That is not to say that the characters are in any way not well developed and have grown in stature and confidence, to fill the role she has created for them.
The Christie plot building and storytelling skills are legendary, with every detail carefully thought through and catalogued. Written in the language of a bygone time, this complete package offers me, the reader, a totally immersive experience.
On this occasion, Piorot is taking a much needed holiday, but of course, wherever he travels, murder always seems to sniff him out and follow him.
The plot of ‘Evil Under The Sun’, is not particularly deep, although there are several twists and turns, in what I wrongly thought was a case to be quickly solved. I became embroiled in amateur witchcraft and drug smuggling, as well as the inevitable femme fatale, lured and deceived by the unscrupulous cad, with murder the only possible outcome.
Every one of the suspects has an alibi, that either seems to protect themselves, or someone else and I suspect that Poirot has worked out the probable identity of the killer long before he lets it be known, only prolonging the investigation further to confirm his suspicions, by watching the way that the suspects interact with one another and the manner in which his chosen perpetrator keeps up their own role of pretense, both within their own adopted personality and with the other group members.
As with most murders, there always has to be someone suspected of the crime, who turns out to be an innocent party, although in this case, the third party, really believes themselves to be guilty of the crime, thereby throwing Poirot slightly off the scent of the true killer, for a few short moments. Happily, this third party is made to realise that their actions are not those of a murderer and thus there is something of a happy ending in the offing for them.
If, like me, you are already an Agatha Christie fan, this is a great story, full of some real twists and turns in the plot, with the usual great, in depth characterizations of all the suspects, and the expected final flourish as the unexpected perpetrator is revealed.
Of course, I cannot read a Poirot case, without visualising the face and hearing the precise tones of the character, as so eloquently portrayed in the UK television series, by David Suchet. I fear that the poor man will be forever typecast, but he does fit the Christie brief of the character so well, that when I then read one of his casebook stories, it is almost as if I know him personally and I am there, looking over his shoulder, as he makes his deductions and unmasks the criminal.
on 16 January 2016
Poirot is on holiday in a beautiful beach area during a beautiful English summer. At the Jolly Roger Hotel with him are an eclectic group of fellow holiday makers one of whom is Arlena Stuart, an actress and someone who attracts all sorts of men. Arlena is found dead, strangled on a beach, and Poirot has to sort through the group of people to find who it is most likely to be and then to work out how they did it. I really enjoyed this installment of Poirot and the idea of Poirot being on holiday when a murder is committed is particularly interesting as it allows Poirot to relax a bit before having to work and realise he has been thinking about the people there since he arrived. What I enjoyed most about this is there is about 100 pages of Christie setting the scene and introducing the characters. This has two effects, one of which is it allows the reader to build up a connection with the characters and by default the person who winds up dead and the other is it helps the reader to enjoy the book and immerse themselves in it fully before the action really gets going. As always with Poirot books this is written really well with some lovely character development and plot threads to keep the book moving. There are a few red herrings during the course of this book which again help to keep the suspense up as well. Poirot takes us through his ponderings very well as usual and I especially liked the section where he explains who the culprit or culprits are and the reasoning. As always this is a thoroughly enjoyable Poirot read from the Queen of crime.
on 24 October 2007
(4.4 stars ) Before writing this review I wasn't sure whether or not to give it 5 stars, I decided that there are some better Agatha Christie books, so I gave it 4 stars, I must say that I nearly gave it 5 stars. It was a throughly excellent read and I highly enjoyed it. I will now talk about some important aspects of detective stories that are used in this story and how well it uses them.
Setting: The idea of Poirot going to the seaside for a holiday and a murder happening there is an excellent idea to make the book interesting and individual, I felt that this helped to make the book more enjoyable, and I almost felt I like it was Summer and I was at the beach 8/10.
Characterization: This has never been considered Christies strong point but I think ( excluding one or two of her books ) she is usually quite at it good, if not great. This book is an example of one of her books with good characterization, the characters were interesting and I wanted to know what happened to them ( if you are looking for a Christie book with brilliant characterization, read Death On The Nile ) 8/10.
Plot: This book chronologically follows One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, my least favourite Agatha Christie book so far, but you can't tell that it does because it is so enjoyable. It ( like one, two, buckle my shoe ) is very complicated and they're are lots of misleading and clever clues.
The plot is basically this, Poirot goes on holidays to the seaside and can sense an evil presence in the seaside air and suspects that there may be a murder. Poirot's habit of never being wrong applies again here, when Arlena Stuart gets murdered and they are suddenly plunged into a complicated investigation with loads of interesting suspects and clues, but not too complicated for Hercule Poirot 9/10.
The Conclusion: I guessed the identity of the murderer by the time the body was found, I also guessed one or two clever clues, but I didn't guess the motive and didn't notice a lot of the brilliant subtle clues that were so cleverly disguised. If you are new to Christie or usually don't guess her conclusions, then you almost definitely won't guess this one, but I usually guess them. Despite guessing it, this is a truely complex conclusion ( another similarity to one, two, buckle my shoe ) and it will completely satisfy almost any reader, based on the way that all the clues fall into place 8/10.
To sum up this book is better than the average Christie, but not quite one of her masterpieces. I highly reccomend it.