Top critical review
Confusing and not great
on 22 October 2017
This is one of Christie's worst novels.
It's an early work, which might explain it, when she was tied to her first publisher to write five books, and this was the last of the five.
If you're expecting a classic Christie whodunnit, then think again. This is a very, very light-hearted comedy-cum-spy thriller. Its main downside is that none of the characters are drawn particularly well, most of them cardboard, with lots of dialogue and very few descriptions of the people or the places or atmosphere.
The second major disadvantage of this novel is that there are about four plots that run concurrently, intertwining at various points, but with so many characters that you don't really get to know, so many plots, I found myself getting very confused very quickly. The plots in themselves are quite intriguing, and the ingredients for a good thriller are there - secret letters, a diamond, a sought-after manuscript, criminal gangs, royalty and revolution ... but none of it is actually plotted or described very well. I read to the end simply to finish the book, but I really wouldn't recommend this one, unless you are a real Christie fan, and want to see an early experiment of hers that didn't really work.