Blurb: As the wife of an eminent archaeologist, Agatha Christie has taken part in several expeditions to the Near East. Drawing upon this experience, she gives us, in Death Comes as the End, a murder mystery laid in Ancient Egypt 4000 years ago.
Into the household of Imhotep, the Mortuary Priest, comes the beautiful Nofret. The household, outwardly at peace, has at its core, in the words of thoughtful scribe Hori, a rottenness that breeds from within. With Nofret comes anger, jealousy, quarrels and finally death.
Human passions were the same in 2000 BC as they are to-day. The fussy and pompous Imhotep, the timid Yahmose, the quarrelsome Sobek and the malicious 'poor relation' Henet - all are types to be met with in our present world.
Agatha Christie's latest experiment is as ingenious and baffling as always, and ends with a climax few would anticipate.
Thoughts: I loved this book. I read it in an afternoon, it was so enthralling I couldn't put it down! This is a real page turner, with the classic characters of a murder mystery present (spiteful siblings, star-crossed lovers, distant admirer, crazy parent) but with the twist of being set in Ancient Egypt. I would love to know what Christie's actual ending was. She was advised to change the original to this one and was apparently never satisfied with it. I, and many others, would disagree.
11. Sparkling Cyanide - Agatha Christie
Blurb: Rosemary Barton is dead nearly a year before the story opens. But she lives on in the minds of six people. Six people who cannot forget. Iris, her sister; George, her husband; Ruth, her husband's secretary; Stephen Farraday, her lover; Sandra Farraday, his wife; and Anthony Brown, her mysterious friend. Each of them has a special reason for remembering...
Was her death suicide? Or was it murder?
Rosemary died at an evening party at one of London's most luxurious restaurants. A year later a second party takes place. There is a bowl of rosemary in the centre of the table, and round it sit the same six people who sat there the year before - with an empty chair to mark Rosemary's place.
Every one is on edge, nervous, afraid, waiting for something to happen. And something does happen.
Sparkling Cyanide is an altogether admirable example of Agatha Christie's virtuosity, of her skill in construction, plot and characterisation.
Thoughts: As I started reading this, I realised this was the original of the TV adaptation The Yellow Iris, with some major differences. The entire plot was changed for the adaptation, with the setting moved to Argentina and the main characters names switched (irises are clearly far prettier than rosemary). Even the murderer had been changed - but not for the better. I found myself enjoying the original far more. There was no Poirot and there was definitely no need for him either. The plot was interesting enough, with a twist I did not see coming. I do wonder, if TV execs has decided the plot was too far-fetched and unbelievable and so changed it to a more generic format. Either way, the book is a good-read and can be read without fear of spoiling the episode.