Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie – A Review
Rating : 4/5
Date of Publication : November, 1937
Agatha Christie’s foreign mysteries are a unique blend of murder mysteries incorporated into a mini-travelogue of the exotic middle east. Her extensive travels to various archaeological spots with her husband Max Mallowan gave her a first-hand experience of the rustic beauty of this region. From these were conceived some of her everlasting hits like Murder on the Orient Express, Murder in Mesopotamia etc. These foreign mysteries are a league apart from her regular country house mysteries due to the clever incorporation of the various locations into the mysteries. Death on the Nile is no different.
Hercule Poirot, on his Egyptian vacation, is approached by a rich socialite Linnet Ridgeway for his help in dissuading her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort from stalking her. Ridgeway is recently married to Simon Doyle, to whom Jacqueline was previously engaged, which makes Jacqueline bitterly resent her. Havoc wreaks on a tranquil cruise over the Nile when Linnet is found in her cabin with a shot to her head. It falls on Poirot to solve the murder before the steamer docks in Cairo.
The book is structured into two halves. The first half is spent in elaborately sketching the characters and their relation with each other. This works like a guide for the readers and help us in keeping track of the relevant details of the multitude of characters in the book who in the second half find themselves confined in a steamer across the Nile. The first part is interesting as we get to see Christie build up intrigue just by few well-placed comments in the conversation between characters. The second part takes us to Egypt where Christie spends time describing the beauty of Nile and Abu Simbel along with the description of the people (I felt the description of the locals were highly biased and did not do justice to the people). The pace picks up once the crime gets committed under the watchful eyes of Poirot and the ensuing investigation makes it a page turner.
Christie fabricates a highly complex plot in this novel that is filled with multiple subplots exploring various themes like romance, vengeance, friendship and loyalty. Some of the subplots involving minor characters brings a whiff of lightness to a morbid tale of deceit. Apart from her usual red herrings, Christie plants various clues in these subplots to form an intricate pattern. These confound the readers and provide a worthy challenge for your “grey matter”. However, it is really not that hard for a seasoned Christie lover to see through the ruse and figure out the culprit. I immensely enjoyed the book with its diverse story lines, unique characters and beautiful settings.
This book is a must read for any Christie fan as it is enjoyable, intriguing and immensely satisfying. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best works of Christie and adds a beautiful feather in her cap.