Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #17)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Outstanding mystery, good main cast
Cons: Supporting cast could be stronger; slow start
The Bottom Line:
Deadly honeymoon
Poirot there to solve the case
Excellent myst'ry

Murder Visits Egypt

Several years ago, a friend spotted a local theater doing the play version of Death on the Nile.  I completely enjoyed it, although I knew that Agatha Christie made some changes to the story when she adapted it for the stage.  (For one thing, she took out Poirot completely!)  When I learned that Kenneth Branagh was planning to turn it into a movie next, I decided that listening to it would be a great idea, so I check an audio version out of my local library.

This book finds a retired Hercule Poirot taking a trip to Egypt.  He's on vacation, so even when his fellow travelers recognize him, he tries to change the subject when they want to discuss his old cases.

Among his fellow passengers is Linnet Ridgeway, the wealthiest woman in Britain.  The young heiress is on her honeymoon, but all is not going according to plan.  Against his will, Poirot finds himself drawn into the drama surrounding the newlyweds.  Then the unthinkable happens, and someone is murdered in the middle of the night.  Can Poirot figure out what happened?

I know that pacing today is not what it was when Agatha Christie wrote this book, but even keeping that in mind, this book starts slowly.  There is a long part that introduces us to some key players months before the events truly start in Egypt.  Things do get better once everyone arrives in Egypt since we are getting a much clearer picture of suspects and motives at that point.

Once the murder happens, things really pick up.  This is classic Christie with a plot so complex it takes Poirot to unravel it.  When I reached the end, I was in awe over how it was all done.  There is a reason she is still so revered as a mystery writer to this day.  And remember, I had the play to help me figure it out.  Honestly, I didn't remember enough about the plot from the play to truly help me here, although what little I did remember fit perfectly with the ultimate solution in the book.

I also struggled keeping some of the minor characters straight.  They could have been better developed to truly help me remember who they were, but it was never an issue for long when they walked on the page.

The audio version I listened to was narrated by David Suchet, best known for playing Poirot in the TV adaptations for years.  I must admit, I had some issues with his narration.  Some of the voices he gave the characters, especially that of Colonel Race, Poirot’s assistant in figuring things out, is very annoying.

That complaint aside, I'm still extremely glad I listened to Death on the Nile.  This is a master of the mystery genre at work.  If you've missed this book, fix that now.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

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