Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

278 pages
Published in 1945 by G. P. Putnam's Sons
Reprinted in 2011 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
"At a round table in the Luxembourg nightclub six people sit down to dinner at a table laid for seven. In front of the empty place is a sprig of rosemary – in solemn memory of Rosemary Barton who died at the same table exactly one year previously. No one present on that fateful night would ever forget the woman’s face, contorted beyond recognition – or what they remembered about her astonishing life. But which of those present has the murder of Rosemary Barton on their conscience?" (Summary courtesy of
Sparkling Cyanide is a classic Agatha Christie mystery novel and for that fact alone I enjoyed it. It's a quick and entertaining read that left me puzzling out the answer until nearly the end. That said, I can't say that Sparkling Cyanide was outstanding amongst all of Agatha Christie's novels. I felt it followed pretty much the same plot formula that she used for several of her earlier works and it left me with a feeling of familiarity that I couldn't quite put my finger on, as if I had read the story already.

During further reading I discovered that prior to publishing Sparkling Cyanide, Agatha Christie actually used the plot in a short story titled Yellow Iris. The differences between the short story and the novel are few, but they are important. When writing Sparkling Cyanide Christie removed Hercule Poirot entirely making Colonel Race the central detective, and she changed the identity of the murder (or murderers) so to give the feeling of a fresh story... and it sort of works. For those who have never read Yellow Iris it is a new story, but somehow even without reading Yellow Iris the whole book felt familiar.

All in all, if you're looking for an entertaining "who-dunit" from the Queen of Crime, this one will definitely pass for a fast and fun read, but if you're looking for something thrilling and fresh, in my opinion it's best to try one of her earlier works.

Up next, The Hollow.

Related Links:
Other Agatha Christie Reviews:
*Novels published from 1920-1923 see note below.

The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
The Big Four (1927)
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Seven Dials Mystery (1929)
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Sittaford Mystery (1931)
Peril at End House
Lord Edgware Dies
Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Three Act Tragedy (1935)
Death in the Clouds
The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
Cards on the Table
Dumb Witness
Death on the Nile (1937)
Appointment With Death (1938)
Hercule Poirot's Christmas (1938)
Murder Is Easy (1939)
And Then There Were None (1939)
Sad Cypress (1939)
One, Two Buckle My Shoe (1940)
Evil Under the Sun (1941)
N or M? (1941)
The Body in the Library (1942)
Five Little Pigs (1942)
The Moving Finger (1942)

* Christie's novels written from 1920 (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) through 1923 (Murder on the Links) I read before I began this blog hence no reviews are currently available.


B said...

I just watched the video version of this (or at least of Yellow Iris) the other day. Very enjoyable. I have to admit, though, I liked Poirot being in it :)

Audrey said...

I noticed that you read "Unbroken" and was wondering if you will share your thoughts on it. I've been seeing the book everywhere and am wondering if it is good as people say it is.

Sarah M. said...

Audrey, Yes, I do plan to review Unbroken. I'm still compiling my overall thoughts, but hope to have a review posted in the next week.

Carrie said...

I'm feeling in the mood for another mystery these days and your Christie posts are kinda pushing me in her direction.