From time-to-time, I like to read a random Agatha Christie. As perhaps the greatest whodunnit writer of all-time, Christie keeps me sharp as a writer, even if I’m not especially a fan of whodunnits.
I grabbed this one randomly from my local library, assuming that at any moment, my state will have a stay-at-home order and I’ll have to hunker down again with books. That hasn’t happened…yet. But when I had space over the weekend to get to this one, I was excited to do so.
I’m not a Christie expert, this is like my fifth or sixth of hers. But what I appreciate about them is how few of them are alike, at least the ones I’ve read. Whereas Poirot was a peripheral character in The Hollow, which is probably still my favorite of hers, here he’s front-and-center, trying to deduce a murder that turns into a cat-and-mouse game on a floating barge on the Nile.
I would have enjoyed this more had Christie come up with one or two fewer characters. She tries to suss out everyone’s motives before they get on the doomed boat but it was tough to keep up with some of them and thus, the book lost some of its luster. Nevertheless, it’s still a well-written mystery and the way she puts these things together is always impressive to me.
I also really enjoy how Christie skewers her own writing industry in some of her works. Here she does it with a fictional female mystery writer whose books have stopped selling. Whether this was using an ancillary to express career anxiety or just making fun of herself or a rival, it was still laughable every time the character had a moment.
I definitely want to see the 1978 film now because the book read like it would be easily adaptable. Still not a fan of Kenneth Branagh in the modern day lead role.