CBR11bingo: Summer Read
I have long been a fan of Agatha Christie. Last year, when I finally got around to reading Murder on the Orient Express, I was surprised to discover that her writing was, perhaps, not as nuanced as I remembered it from when I used to devour her novels in grade school. So I was pleasantly surprised at Death on the Nile; I’d even hazard to say this might be one of Christie’s best. Although I saw the movie many years ago, I started to doubt my memory of it, and even wonder whether the ending had been changed in the film, because I still wasn’t quite sure how he/she/they/it could have pulled off the murder until I got very close to the ending.
The plot revolves around a beautiful heiress (Is there an other kind in a British mystery?) named Linnet Ridgeway, who has everything in the world going for her, including a proposal of marriage from an actual British Lord. Not satisfied with everything, Linnet turns down the Lord and pulls a shameless hussy move, stealing away her best friend Jackie’s main squeeze Simon and marrying him instead. This doesn’t go down so well with Jackie, who proceeds to stalk her frenemy and ex-lover all over Egypt, where the couple is supposed to be enjoying their honeymoon, not fending off crazy ex-girlfriend. You see where this is going, right?
Note quite yet
For some reason Linnet consults Hercule Poirot, because she mistakes him for a marriage and family therapist. Clearly she hadn’t read Murder on the Orient Express, which came out three years before Death on the Nile, and in which the main antagonist goes to Poirot for help, Poirot refuses, and antagonist ends up dead. The only bigger mistake in literature is choosing to be an urchin in a Dickens novel.
Next week on Poor Life Decisions
Poirot agrees to at least try to talk some sense into Jackie, telling her to beware of spiraling into evil, or some such foolishness, as if he hadn’t made his living off people killing each other. Linnet and Simon decide to ignore Jackie and let her make a fool of herself, and for awhile it seems like she’s beaten. And then. . .
Oh shit. Act II.
Jackie has a few too many drinks and unleashes all her Fatal Attraction crazy onto Simon, eventually shooting him in the leg. Simon’s down, Jackie’s hysterical, and some time during the night, Linnet is murdered.
I tried to warn you.
But who could have done it? Obviously Jackie had the clearest motive, but she was being watched all night. And, it turns out, a few other people with connections to Linnet just happened to be on the cruise as well and just might have had a vested interest in her meeting an untimely end. Poirot does his thing, listening, questioning, not giving away anything, until the final reckoning.
This was a thoroughly entertaining read. Plus, I read it on a train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle, which is one of the best ways you can read an Agatha Christie novel. Next time you’re faced with a long journey by train or ship, pick up a copy of Death on the Nile, grab a cocktail, and enjoy.