Thursday, 22 July 2010

forty-five, forty-four, forty-two: poirot

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie (1936)

An archaeologist's wife is feeling threatened at a dig in Iraq and the man insists on getting a nurse to watch his wife. The nurse discovers that there is something weird going on in the camp, the atmosphere is rather stuffed. And then the wife is found dead, murdered in her room in the middle of the day and nothing suspicious has been seen. Hercule Poirot, who happens to be travelling by, takes the case and solves it, but not until another murder has taken place.

Another excellent Poirot story. And I liked the twist where the story is narrated as a book written by the nurse, with an introduction and everything.


Death on the Nile (1937)

Hercule Poirot is on a holiday in Egypt when a young woman tells him that she intends to murder someone. A man she loves left her and married her much richer and prettier friend. And then the murder happens, but the woman has an alibi. When the ship reaches its final destination four people have been murdered and one suicide, but Poirot has also solved the case.

This is quite a long Poirot story. It is really built up well, the motives for going to Egypt from everyone involved are explained and I got really involved in the story. And for once I finally guessed who did the murders. Definitely one of my favourite Agatha Christie stories.

Appointment with Death (1938)

Hercule Poirot is in Jerusalem where he overhears someone saying You see, don't you, that she's got to be killed? and he knows that he will recognise the voice if he hears it again. Two doctors are also at the same hotel and they observe an American family with odd behaviour. The adult children are afraid of their mother who is rather sadistic. The doctors travel to Petra where they meet the family again. And the mother is found dead, one of the doctors suspect murder and Poirot gets involved.

Another good read, but not as quite as good as the other two in the Poirot in the Orient omnibus. I was quite surprised to see so much xenophobia and racism in the stories, but it definitely mirrors the British world view in the 1930s. And I was also surprised to discover that Poirot lets some crimes slip through his fingers - after telling the criminals that he knows the truth, of course.

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