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.