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Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Paperback – 1 Feb 2011
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"Must be read twice, once for enjoyment and once to see how the wheels go round."--The Times (London)
"A peach of a case for Poirot. I take my hat off to the author for as ingenious an alibi as can well be imagined."--Sunday Times (London)
"The construction is flawless."--Daily Mail (London)
"The main alibi is of the first brilliance ... the descriptive work hits, as it were, the Nile on the head."--The Observer (London)
From the Back Cover
The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: "I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger." Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems.See all Product description
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One of the things I like about reading Agatha Christie’s books is that they give you an insight into life in the early 1900s (the book was published in November 1937). For example, a character says she bought a car for £15! It is clearly mechanically unreliable (as you might expect of a car from that era). In another part of the book, a boy is teasing a dog. A character tries to get him to stop. He doesn’t so she “whipped out a penknife and plunged it into him. There was the most awful row”. The former sentence is remarkable and then you read the latter – as if it was indecent for anyone to complain about stabbing a child. The book never mentions a prosecution – it sounds as if a row was the end of it.
Agatha Christie’s husband was an archaeologist and she accompanied him to digs in Syria as well as travelling in Egypt for pleasure. It gave her the knowledge and experience to write the book.
The author starts the book by introducing the characters, so you realise why they will all end up in Egypt in chapter 2.
As in a number of her books, Christie traps her characters (in this case, on a romantic river steamer, the “Karnak”) to limit the number of suspects.
As ever, the fun is in trying to work out who the murderer is. Before anyone was murdered, I did even wonder who the victim would be – there is an obvious candidate but until it happens, you can’t be sure.
All I will say (as I do not wish to spoil anything) is that the plot is a good one. The beauty of it is that, though you might work out the likely suspect (for once, I did), I couldn’t for the life of me (no pun intended) work out how the murder was carried out - I still desperately needed the “grand reveal”.
You do not need to read any other Agatha Christie books before this – it is a “standalone” book (like all of her books save “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”).
This is a great whodunnit mixed with a travel book. It is helped by the exotic setting of an old river steamer on the Nile, surrounded by the incredible sights of ancient Egypt. It could be an expensive book to buy – it has made me want to go on a Nile cruise. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Christie sets the stage perfectly in London by describing Hercule Poirot observing a young woman, Jacqueline de Bellefort partying exuberantly with her dashing fiancee Simon Doyle. Later in Egypt, Poirot meets Doyle with his new wife - a different woman - the wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway. Simon's ex-fiancee stalks the newlyweds, and Jacqueline tells Poirot she would like to kill Linnet.
They all end up on a Nile cruise, and Christie introduces a glittering cast of American and European characters - most of whom are suspects later in the story. Christie brings the tropical palm-tree fringed Nile and ancient monuments built to honour the pharaohs to life, and the reader can almost smell and touch the scenery as the action unfolds. A near miss with a large boulder is the first obvious threat to Simon and Linnet.
On the boat, in a late night drinking binge, someone is shot in the leg. Christie builds the drama to a crescendo the next day when another passenger is found dead in their cabin.
Enter the fabled detective Poirot - Christie weaves him in between the different characters testing their alibis and finding out crucial clues and information in a series of dramatic and at times confrontational interviews. The reader is drawn one way, then another - it is almost impossible to have a certain view as to who the culprit is. A second murder adds to the tension, and time becomes an issue for Poirot as he does not want the killer to strike again.
Poirot reveals that most of the passengers had a motive for the murders, but at the end he reveals his conclusion and the case is solved. Christie provides one last dramatic twist at the very end - the reader can take no more drama!
In this novel, Christie has everything in place for a wonderful mystery: great characters, a well plotted murder and an exotic location. Poirot is at the very height of his powers and this is a sublime mystery, with not a word out of place. If you haven't read this before, then you are in for a treat. I have re-read it many, many times and it remains one of my favourite books. Christie remains the greatest crime novelist ever and I doubt anyone will ever take that title from her.