Thursday, April 1, 2010

Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

255 pages
Published 1938, reprinted 2007
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc
New York, NY

Although I may be a little behind in posting reviews I have been keeping up my reading of Agatha Christie's crime novels. As you may recall I have set the goal to read through all of Dame Agatha Christie's murder mystery novels by date of publication. I began this personal challenge in 2008 and have to date read 22 of her novels (I skipped one that I'd read not long before starting this challenge). Appointment With Death was Christie's 23rd mystery novel and the 15th to have Hercule Poirot as the lead detective.

The Plot:
"'You do see, don't you, that she's got to be Killed?' Hercule Poirot overhears a young man saying these chilling words, then days later, the man's stepmother, known to all as a sadistic tyrant, is found dead. But beyond a puncture wound to the wrist, the exact cause of the woman's death is unknown -- and murder is only one possibility. In his meticulous fashion, the exacting Belgian sleuth interviews each of the victim's beleaguered family members, then becomes interested in other members of the vacationing part: a doctor whose hypodermic syringe has gone missing, a domineering English matron, and an energetic young woman with an interest in the victim's son. While few mourn the dead woman's passing, suspense mounts as Poirot closes in on the circumstances surrounding her murky death." (Summary courtesy of the publisher)

My Thoughts:
Appointment With Death was a fast read, which I finished in less than 24 hours. On it's face I liked it, but I can't say it was anywhere near Christie's best.

For starters, I know Christie enjoyed basing her mysteries in areas of the world she had visited or lived, but having just finished Death on the Nile this novel felt a little repetitive by having the setting be yet another location in the Middle East and again while Hercule Poirot is on holiday.

Then there's the plot. I loved the whole line "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?" -- it really hooked me into the story, but while some stories can drag on too long past the peak of the crime, this one I felt was too short, too simple in it's telling. It was as if I knew the ending before I reached it. Yet, I've never read the book, nor have I seen any film adaptation.
On the flip side, I really thought the story plot's characters and in particular, the murder victim were clever and unique. Normally the victim(s) range between the disliked to the ill-fated, but in Appointment With Death the victim is painted as such an evil person that the reader can't help but breathe a sigh of relief when they are bumped off.

And yet as much as I liked the uniqueness of the villain, again I felt as though I already knew the ending. I can't put my finger on it, but to say that I was able to guess who the murderer was before Poirot began his investigations and the love story though sweet was very obvious as were the "happily ever after" endings that Christie gave to several of the main characters.

Still, I can't say I disliked the story, just that it wasn't a favorite. In my opinion if you had to pick one Christie mystery to read that was set in the Middle East you should read Death On the Nile.

Up next, Hercule Poirot's Christmas.

My other Agatha Christie Reviews:
The Man in the Brown Suit
The Secret of Chimneys
The Big Four

The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Seven Dials Mystery

The Murder at the Vicarage
The Sittaford Mystery

Peril at End House
Lord Edgware Dies

Murder on the Orient Express
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Three Act Tragedy
Death in the Clouds
The A.B.C. Murders
Murder in Mesopotamia

Cards on the Table

Dumb Witness
Death on the Nile

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