Tuesday, 5 January 2016

death on the nile

On Sunday 3 January I finished Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie.

It was an unusual read for me, as I have very rarely read an Agatha Christie in which I've known who had done it in advance. I haven't seen that many adaptations, and I don't generally remember who has done it anyway, and sometimes they change who has done it. But I saw the Peter Ustinov film version of Death On The Nile a few years ago, and I remembered one key incident in it, and very soon in reading the book it was clear which characters were involved, and therefore the solution to the mystery.

What it did mean, however, was that I was able to read it and appreciate the skill with which it was constructed. On the one hand, knowing whodunnit meant that as I read it it seemed glaringly obvious whodunnit, because I could see all the pointers to it. On the other, I could see how elegantly hidden in plain sight the clues were, and in particular the perfect phrasing in conversation and description which did not deceive but artfully misled. Poirot - like Marple - is a detective who doesn't share all he knows with the reader or his sidekick, just makes cryptic comments and hints, which I'm not too keen on (I like those detectives who significantly share their thought processes with the reader, so you are alongside them; I think Adam Dalgleish is like this, for example), but it's not too tiresome if you don't read too many in succession. And at least it's better than those ones - of which Agatha has a number - where the amateur sleuths spend pages swopping all their constructed permutations of who might have done it why and how, which is very tedious.

The lesson of the danger of loving too intensely was nicely counterbalanced by a couple of happy endings for other cast members.

Not being a re-reader, so not usually being able to read from that point of view of knowledge, the experience was well worth it for a change, but I wouldn't want to do it too often.