October is over halfway through and I’ve just finished my third Agatha Christie book of the month. I was hoping to be a bit further ahead at this point but the last couple of weeks haven’t been good for reading. I’m on holiday now and I’m planning on getting as much done as possible. Even if I don’t get any other Christie books read before Halloween (even though I definitely will have to read And Then There Were None for my book club), I have achieved the one thing I wanted. I’ve reread Death on the Nile before Kenny B brings his film out. You can see why it was the second in this latest series of adaptations. It’s one of the first murder mysteries that most people think of when they think of the Queen of Crime. You can definitely see why. As murders go, this is pretty memorable.
People murder, we are told by Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, for many different reasons. The most common being money. When the young and very wealthy socialite Linnet Ridgeway is found dead on her honeymoon, money is certainly a potential cause. However, Hercule Poirot would also list “revenge—and love, and fear, and pure hate, and beneficence” as possible motivations to kill. Considering Linnet had recently married her best friend’s fiancé, it’s entirely likely that revenge is the key to her death. Especially as Jacqueline, the injured party has been following them wherever they go.
Luckily, or unluckily, Hercule Poirot is also holidaying in Egypt. He and the troubled trio end up on a steam cruiser travelling up the Nile. Of course, when Linnet is found dead, suspicion immediately falls on Jacqueline. After all, only a few days later, she told the detective that she wanted to put her gun against Linnet’s head and pull the trigger. It seems as though there is only one explanation. However, Jackie has an airtight alibi for the night, as does Linnet’s husband, Simon. With the two most obvious suspects out of the picture, who on board was capable of killing the young heiress?
There is a reason that Death on the Nile is one of Christie’s most popular and well-known stories. It is an intricately plotted mystery. Right from the start, the most obvious solutions are proved to be incorrect. It’s a clever tale that sets you off in all sorts of directions before making the reveal feel so obvious. It doesn’t quite have the impact of And Then There Were None, Roger Aykroyd, or Murder on the Orient Express. Although, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing all of the strands come together.
The greatest joy in reading a Poirot story is watching the great detective do what he does best. We see him conducting his investigation by interviewing all of the other passengers about the night of the murder. Luckily, Poirot and the troubled trio were joined on their journey by a host of interesting and mysterious characters. Every single one of them is hiding something and plenty of them seem to have a reason for wanting Linnet dead. As ever, Christie’s characters are fascinating. She understands their motivations and their social need to hide things.
When it comes down to it, Death on the Nile is obviously a fantastic novel but I can’t put it in quite the same league as some of her other novels. There is something a little messy about the ending and the plan isn’t quite as foolproof as the book tries to make up think. I also feel as though this novel suffers from Christie’s romanticising of Egypt. I get that it meant a lot to her personally but it doesn’t always aid the plot. The whole thing takes a bit of time to really get going which means the pace feels a bit off at the start. However, it’s shrewdly plotted and showcases the writer’s unique talent for creating captivating crime novels.