Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Book cover of Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
I think that Death on the Nile is my second favourite Agatha Christie novel, next to And Then There Were None which I've also read recently. This book features Hercule Poirot, however; the charming little Belgian detective with his famous moustache. I do like him best of all the 'regular' investigators, so I am rather partial to this particular series.

Plot summary: The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems…

After my And Then There Were None review, I talked to quite a few of my readers who said that they'd read an Agatha Christie novel once and not really liked it. Normally I'd shrug my shoulders and say 'fair enough,' but you just can't do that with Agatha Christie. Her books are so different and there are so many of them, that disliking one is no guarantee that you'll hate them all, and vice versa. Take Passenger to Frankfurt - I could barely bring myself to finish it, but I still like an awful lot of her other books.

So. Death on the Nile is unsurprisingly set in Egypt, for the most part on board a cruise ship heading down the Nile. Linnet Ridgeway, a rich young newlywed is shot in her bed one night, and you don't need Poirot to work out that it was somebody on board the ship. The question is, quite obviously, whodunnit?

There's a whole host of characters to choose from, each with their own potential motive for killing Linnet. There are secrets, confessions, confusions, red herrings and pretty much everything you could ever want from a vintage murder mystery.
In addition, there's a wonderful atmosphere to this book. There's a tension as everybody has a different idea about who the murderer is, but they're all trapped on a ship among the mysterious ancient artifacts. 

I also like that Poirot's companion on this voyage is Colonel Race instead of Captain Hastings. The latter is a little annoying, constantly mumbling to himself that Poirot has finally lost his mind and doesn't know what he's talking about despite many books where he has not and does, respectively. Colonel Race is much more respectful and competant in his own right, although he refers to Poirot's judgement when necessary.

Reading Death on the Nile made for an interesting experiment actually. When I read And Then There Were None, I'd forgotten who the culprit was and so it was like reading it again for the first time, with all the surprises and twists read for me. I began this book the same way, but after a chapter or two it all came rushing back and I remembered everything. Oddly enough, it gave me a different type of satisfaction - I got to sit there all smug and victorious while the characters made lots of silly accusations I knew were wrong. Clearly it works just fine to read these books when you know the ending!

Speaking of which, the ending itself is suitably climactic. It makes sense but I'd never have figured it out on my own. That's why we have Poirot, I suppose! I love when a denouement of a mystery novel is actually clever - you've been on a journey along with the innocent characters and it's thrilling to all learn the true answer together.

In short, Death on the Nile is second only to And Then There Were None, and that is high praise indeed. Regardless of whether you've read Agatha Christie before and didn't like it much, try again - and this book is a great place to start.


  1. I love a bit of Agatha Christie! I'm ashamed to admit that I've only ever read Marple and never Poirot, so perhaps I ought to rectify that...Maybe I'll start with this :)

  2. I'm trying to remember if I read this, and I *think* I did... But like I said last time, I don't know what I've read and what I haven't, and I definitely don't remember plot points! But yes. Poirot. I love him. *Shouts up to Ellie* POIROT IS THE BEST. Leave Marple and come over to the adorable, Belgian side!

  3. I bloody love Agatha Christie. I haven't read this one because for a while I had this plan to read all of the Poirot books in order. I abandoned that plan to read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, though, so now I have no reason. And anything that's even close And Then There Were None (which is one of my favourite books ever, never mind just Christie's books) is clearly a win.

    Maybe this can be my treat when I've finished Tess!

  4. I have never read any Agatha Christie novels, but I need to! My mom watched the TV show Poirot when I was a kid, and I remember thinking it was cool. So I'm thinking I need to read And Then There Were None and Death on the Nile first, eh? They both sound really good. Great review!

  5. I am a huge fan of Agatha! I've read almost all of her books... my favorite is of course Poirot :) It's been a while since I read Death on the Nile - although I still remember the culprit, but it's worth a rereading for sure!


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