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“It’s not the guilty who matter, it’s the innocent”,
This review is from: Ordeal by Innocence: Dramatisation (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I come to this one as a Christie novice, and not a fan. However, I was intrigued by this one, as it’s consciously billed as out of her ordinary genre.
In the opening scene, Jacko Argyle hitches a lift away from the family home with a total stranger, on the evening that Jacko’s mother is murdered. Subsequently Jacko dies in prison after being found guilty of the murder. Jacko had protested that the man who picked him up could provide the vital alibi, but the stranger is untraceable. Two years later, thanks to the tenacity of Jacko’s lawyer [who’s paying him? Certainly not the family. One of the plot’s loose ends] the stranger is identified as the improbably-named Dr Calgary. Calgary, intent on clearing Jacko’s name, heads to the family home on the island of Sunnypoint (islands being a Christie favourite for focussing the action) and the fun begins.
Calgary is not welcome. Jacko was the family black sheep, and Mrs Argyle was a tyrant, so they are not much missed. Worse, unless the murderer was the stereotype “unknown assailant”, one of the family has a very good reason to conceal the truth, and (though for a different reason) like the rest prefers to let sleeping murderers lie.
Gradually, some of the family reluctantly accept the need to find the truth, and start to work with Calgary. He is a scientist, and despite his protestation “I’m not one of those professors you get in stories” [i.e. the absent-minded sort], he rushes about madly in all directions before solving the mystery, nearly at the cost of his own life. He is the non-gifted amateur detective, and I was surprised to find out that the story was adapted for TV with Miss Marple in place of Calgary. She could have solved it in five minutes flat, though in the end it’s not detection which gets the answer but an unforced admission. (I didn’t pick up any real clues, false or otherwise – I listened a second time to check.)
So much for the story. The few Christies I have seen tend to be slow burners. This radio production becomes increasingly frantic; in 90 minutes there are about 50 separate scenes. I don’t know if this is true to the book, but the overall effect was restlessness rather than dramatic tension. The Argyle family come across as an ill-assorted bunch, but (as we find out early on) there are good reasons for this.
I’m not really sure who this is aimed at. I suspect that hardcore Christie fans wouldn’t go out of their way for it, but neither would the casual listener like me. As mentioned at the start, the main attraction is probably that this is not a typical whodunit.
PS the lame CD cover picture, showing a rowing boat in the rain, means nothing – this is not “Rebecca” territory!