4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Passenger to Frankfurt (Mass Market Paperback)
I was very disappointed by this book. I am a great fan of Christie's writing (I named my cat Jane Marple) and I could not be more ready to enjoy something that she wrote. In this case, however, I repeatedly put the book down and walked away from it, only finishing it because I wanted to see how it ended. Christie wrote it late in her career and the best explanation that I can come up with was that she was coasting on her success and not putting as much effort into this as in her earlier books. Passenger to Frankfurt is a spy novel rather than a murder mystery. It bears a strong resemblance to The Big Four, a very successful earlier novel. Both plots center on a sinister organization bent on world domination, a threadbare idea at best. It works in Four because of the obvious care that Christie put into creating the intricate plot which, while complicated, can be easily followed; and into the characters, the hero being Hercule Poirot who was already a well developed personality. No such effort was spent on this book. Passenger opens in an airport where Sir Stafford Nye, a minor diplomat is petitioned for help by a young woman who says that she will be killed if he doesn't lend her his cape and passport. He does, and the action moves from there. The book is not doomed from the start. As I said, Christie can make this sort of thing work and she leaves herself some excellent openings. The main trouble with the book is that it tries to cover too much and tell too little. Christie seems so unwilling to give anything away that large segments of the action are left out and throughout most of the book the reader has no idea who the good guys and the bad guys really are, even down to the heroes. By the middle of the book the plot has gotten fairly absurd. This secret society has instigated a youth movement worldwide, spearheaded by a handsome young man who they claim to be the son of Hitler. That in itself might not be so bad, if she hadn't pushed it on to have these youth take over all of South America, force Chicago under martial law, et cetera. There are also long paragraphs in which the author goes on and on, philosophizing about the young. Since the book is copyrighted 1970, it occurred to me that this might at least in part be inspired by the popularity of public protest among young people at that time.
I know better than to give away the ending but I will say that I found it very contrived and I didn't feel that she had given the reader enough information to make it really fair.
The saving grace of this book is the characters. While some are woefully underdeveloped, others make excellent proof of Christie's talent in this area. The best by far is Sir Nye's Great-Aunt Matilda. Sharp old maids have always been this author's specialty and the parts in which she appears seem more like genuine Christie than anything else in the book.