I couldn’t recall much about this stand-alone murder mystery other than a few stray details, but that’s an unfair reflection on the novel. While it may not be one of Christie’s true classics, it definitely deserved to be remembered better.
Evil Under the Sun marks an important milestone in my re-readathon – if Wikipedia is to be believed, I’m now precisely halfway through Christie’s back catalogue of detective novels with the book review no. 33! Since I officially committed to this challenge back in August 2018, I should probably complete it by August 2022. Let’s hope that the world is in a decent shape by then, or at least limping back to normality.
I felt that it was time to strategically sprinkle in another of Christie’s big-time stinkers into my re-readathon. Like The Big Four, Passenger to Frankfurt is another of Dame Agatha’s failed attempts at a spy novel about a world-wide conspiracy out to destroy the existing social order. While the former is just plain terrible, the latter also has the dubious distinction of being probably the weirdest book Christie ever penned, and not in a good way. It was first published in 1970 to mark her 80th birthday, and, at the most charitable, it can be seen as a window into Christie’s view of the world she found herself in the twilight of her years.
First published in 1923, The Murder on the Links is Agatha Christie’s third novel and the second to feature her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. I remember it mostly as “the one where Hastings meets his future wife”.
I made a mistake in my review of The Murder at the Vicarage: while it was Miss Marple’s full-length novel debut, it wasn’t her first appearance, rather it was in a 1927 short story called The Tuesday Night Club. Later, it became the first chapter in this entertaining collection of thirteen short stories, which together form a sort of episodic novel. Midway through the book, I realised that I have actually read it before, but the details of each story completely evaporated from my memory so it was like reading them anew.
“Good title that, by the way. Lord Edgware Dies. Look well on a bookstall.” This Poirot novel may not be one of my absolute favourites, but you can tell that Christie had a lot of fun with it, including some self-referential winking. Though I’m not sure if Lord Edgware Dies is necessarily superior to the book’s alternative title, Thirteen at Dinner.
I’ll always have a special soft spot for this book since it was the first Agatha Christie novel I’ve ever read back in my early teens. While I probably wouldn’t recommend it to someone else as a first taste of Christie, it’s a fun adventure romp that holds up surprisingly well on a re-read and is one of Christie’s better thrillers. Also, the current coronavirus situation and its restrictions have a way of colouring things I watch and read; reading about someone embarking on an adventure in a far-off country (on a cruise ship, no less!) left me with a wistful pang that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
One of Christie’s most beloved and famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express is top-tier Dame Agatha, so effortlessly readable I finished most of it while taking a very long bath. It’s also something of a favourite for big-screen adaptation, as evidenced by the recent star-studded version with Kenneth Branagh as Poirot, though I haven’t seen either that or the 1974 adaptation.
This novel marks the debut of Miss Marple, Christie’s other beloved fictional detective, a gentle and harmless-looking old lady with a keen interest in human nature and a remarkably clear view of its dark side. I couldn’t say if it’s the best Miss Marple whodunit, but it ranks as my personal favourite for being so enjoyable to re-visit. I lost count of how many times I picked up my old tattered copy of The Murder at the Vicarage (now replaced with a more respectable one) for a quick and easy in-between comfort re-read.