Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie 

This is my third Christie- having previously read And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Originally published in 1937, Death on the Nile is #17 in the Hercule Poirot series. This golden age mystery centers around the death of a beautiful heiress during her Egyptian honeymoon. There are many potential suspects onboard the boat- an alcoholic author, a jewel thief, a betrayed former friend, a dangerous radical, and a shady financial advisor- but there is also one vacationing Belgian detective.

I found Poirot to be rather tiresome after a point, but the buildup of suspense kept me quickly turning pages. Although I solved some of the secondary mysteries, the reveal of the murderer still came as a surprise. The entire denouement was brilliantly executed and there were surprises up until the very end.

I think I was expecting the Egyptian setting to be more of a focus- with the Nile and its surroundings acting as a supporting character. Instead, I felt as if the action could have easily occurred on any boat on any river. I remember And Then There Were None being much more atmospheric with a stronger sense of place/a setting that was easy to envision. But maybe my memory has just been clouded by the gorgeous and cinematic BBC adaptation?

Let’s be honest though, the setting is not as important as the cast of characters and the mystery itself. On these points I thought Christie delivered spectacularly. They don’t call her the Queen of Crime for nothing!

An important note: As is the case with many of Christie’s works- as well as other works of this era- there are a few instances of prejudice and blatant racism. These definitely took me out of the story each time I encountered them.  Personally, I believe that it’s important to face these uncomfortable, ugly views within the context of the time they were written, as opposed to trying to whitewash/sanitize history. That’s not to say I understand or excuse them- there were people in the past who did not think this way regardless of the times in which they lived- just that I think it’s vital we learn from history instead of sweeping it under the rug. On the other hand,  I can completely understand and empathize with readers who may choose to avoid books that feature such content.

Overall, I found Death on the Nile to be a fun, quick read- though not my favorite Agatha Christie. I can’t wait to watch the 2004 TV adaptation starring Emily Blunt, JJ Field, and of course David Suchet as Poirot.

 


Which Agatha Christie should I read next?

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