agatha christie

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot and holidays never get on well together. Wherever Poirot goes death seems to stalk him. This time though it all may turn out differently. This secluded hotel called the Jolly Roger is very exclusive and entry to it is extremely restricted. Surely, all of its guests are safe against the outside world. But that wouldn’t matter because everywhere under the sun there is evil.

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie was published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in 1941 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the same year.

Arlena Marshall is a strikingly attractive woman. She is a heartbreaker and men are drawn to her like moths to a flame. The vacationers at the Jolly Roger think that she’s up to her old tricks again. But when she turns up dead and the truth starts to be uncovered, it becomes apparent that things are not always what they seem.

I found the plot of Evil Under the Sun surprisingly similar to that of a Poirot short story called Triangle at Rhodes (1936). It also bears some resemblance to another Poirot novel, Death on the Nile (1937). Incidentally, one of the characters in Evil Under the Sun makes a reference to the case of Death on the Nile in one of the early chapters.

Among the characters I thought that the victim, Arlena Marshall, wasn’t properly fleshed out. We know what the others think of her but I don’t really get a sense of who she really was. Kenneth Marshall’s character I didn’t really understand or feel sympathetic towards. He’s a bit of a stuffed shirt. The character of Linda Marshall was poorly sketched.

I found the characters of Odell and Carrie Gardener funny, even if they were caricatures. I wish I could have learned more about the characters of Stephen Lane, Horace Blatt and Emily Brewster.

Like many other Christie mysteries this book has at least one recurring character in it. One of the official investigators in this case, Colonel Weston, had previously appeared in Peril at End House.

Agatha Christie did a wonderful job describing the hotel and its surrounding area. I had no problem picturing it in my mind. Once I started the book it was like I was transported right to the seaside resort, with its beach and overhanging cliffs.

With this mystery I totally had no clue about who the murderer is. I suspected everyone at one time or another. In the end there is no great twist to the solution of the mystery. Of course, there aren’t enough people or enough space for a real surprise. But the actual murder with its intricacy more than makes up for it. It is one of the more elaborately planned murders envisioned by Christie.

Evil Under the Sun is a very engaging mystery. Definitely recommended.

Teaser Tuesdays (June 19)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

“It was Mr Blatt’s apparent ambition to be the life and soul of any place he happened to be in. The Jolly Roger Hotel, in his opinion, given somewhat loudly, needed brightening up. He was puzzled at the way people seemed to melt and disappear when he himself arrived on the scene.”

 P. 56, Evil Under the Sun”  by Agatha Christie

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie gets its title from a verse by Omar Khayyám,

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

The Moving Finger was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1942 and in UK by the Collins Crime Club in 1943.

A sudden spate of hate mail disturbs the peace of the little town of Lymstock. No body is willing to discuss it though until an inhabitant of the town commits suicide, apparently as a result of receiving one such letter.

The title of the book, The Moving Finger, is significant as the poison pen points his/her accusing finger towards the people of the town one after another through the letters.

One big grouse I have with The Moving Finger is the extremely late entry of Miss Marple. She comes in on the last 50 or so pages. It almost seems like she was added to the book sort of as an afterthought. But her appearance makes a difference for me at least. It manages to add a calming effect to the rather disturbing town of Lymstock. I’d very much prefer Lymstock with her as opposed to without her.

One thing that makes this book a good read for me is the appearance of Mrs. Dane Calthrop. Not many people may find her interesting but I do. Her abrupt way of coming and going from one place to another, the way she talks to people, the way people find her and conversations and observations alarming, makes her an unique creation. She appears in only one other Christie book,  The Pale Horse.

Christie gives the reader’s a chance to solve the mystery midway through the story. She gives us a few clues through the narrator Jerry Barton’s subconscious in one of the more intriguing scenes of the book. He fails to solve it but a clever reader may spot a thing or two.

I like the atmosphere of the story. On one hand I savoured the perpetually lazy feeling of holiday the story seems to have. But on the other hand the story also has a sinister undercurrent. The whole town seems to be wearing the mask of well mannered, gentle people. One is never quite sure what lurks beneath their benign surfaces.

Among the characters of the story, I liked Megan. She seemed to have more depth and a far more interesting character than many of the more beautiful and feminine but dumb as doll heroines I’ve come across in mystery fictions. I found the narrator of the story, Jerry Barton to be quite dull. He and his sister, who are prominent characters in the story, are not that interesting.

The identity of the killer is rather startling. The ruthlessness of the killer’s character is surprising considering his/her exterior. But it seems so plausible once Miss Marple explains all.

The Moving Finger does make an interesting read. The sense of evil under the appearance of serenity makes Lymstock an uncomfortable place to visit, even if one does so only in one’s imagination.

Teaser Tuesdays (May 29)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

“ ‘I don’t mean that kind of an expert. I don’t mean someone who knows about anonymous letters or even about murder. I mean someone who knows people. Don’t you see? We want someone who knows a great deal about wickedness!’

It was a queer point of view. But it was, somehow, stimulating.

Before I could say anything more, Mrs. Dane Calthrop nodded her head at me and said in a quick, confident tone: ‘I’m going to see about it right away.’

And she went out of the window again.”

 The Moving Finger”  by Agatha Christie

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 – Completion

I participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 hosted at the Book Chick City. My participation level was TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels.

And I have completed my first challenge of 2012! I thought it would take me at least six months to finish 12 mystery & suspense books but I did it in five. So yay me! 🙂

So glad to have participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012! Thanks to everyone in Book Chick City for hosting this fabulous challenge!

Completed Books:

1. The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

2. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. At the Villa Rose. A.E.W. Mason.

4. Behind That Curtain. Earl Derr Biggers.

5. The Thirteen Problems. Agatha Christie.

6. The Body in the Library. Agatha Christie.

7. 4.50 from Paddington. Agatha Christie.

8.  In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis.

9. The After House. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

10. The Lodger. Marie Adelaide Belloc.

11. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie.

12. The Old Man in the Corner. Baroness Orczy.