Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie: Book Review

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, Harper Collins Publishers, 373 pages

Nostalgia is what brings me to Agatha Christie books. I wanted to read ‘Death on the Nile’ for the sheer joy of revisiting Christie’s style of detective fiction writing.

Death on the Nile’ is the 17th book in the Hercule Poirot series, originally published on 1 November 1937. Since then, the book’s popularity led to its adaptation for the stage, radio, a movie in 1978, and now an eagerly awaited movie release scheduled for September 2021.

Agatha Christie wrote ‘Death on the Nile’ from her experience of a holiday on a streamer from Aswan to Wadi Halfa in Egypt. Hence, you get the picturesque details of popular touristic places like Elephantine and Abu Simbel. Christie considers this book to be one of her best ‘foreign travel’ books. She surely gives you the best of travel and crime within the ‘confines of an armchair’.   

Death on the Nile’ conjectures the obvious setting of river Nile in Egypt and a death. In Christie’s style, a group of people is assembled, this time onboard Karnak, the streamer en route from Shellal to Wadi Halfa. There are death threats, three consecutive murders, and the famous Hercule Poirot.

Christie lends the readers a backdrop to the story that is set in England. Linnet Ridgeway, the young twenty-year-old wealthy heiress has everything in the world that a person could ask for – beauty, intelligence, charm, and wealth.

Jacqueline (Jackie) de Bellefort, Linnet’s best friend is poor and madly in love with Simon Doyle. Simon isn’t wealthy either. Jackie thinks of getting Linnet to hire Simon but there is a turnaround of events. In Egypt, it is Linnet and Simon on their honeymoon trip, stalked and harrowed by heartbroken Jackie.

A wide gamut of passengers are abroad on Karnak – some well acquainted with Linnet, a few with loose ties, and others not linked but aware of Linnet’s wealth and status. There is another person, an engineer on the ship who is embittered by Linnet’s interference in ruining his marital plans.

There is another person, an engineer on the ship who is embittered by Linnet’s interference in ruining his marital plans.

Enter Hercule Poirot, ‘a little man of comical appearance with immense black moustaches’ on a holiday in Egypt, who overhears a few conversations and is consulted by Linnet who feels threatened by enemies around her.

Linnet is found dead in her sleep. Hercule Poirot has to stress his grey cells, follow his time-tested meticulous procedure of interviews, and find clues from the crime scene to solve this case. Poirot is joined by Colonel Race, an acquaintance who is onboard in search of a fugitive criminal.

Look at the moon up there. You see her very plainly, don’t you? She’s very real. But if the sun were to shine you wouldn’t be able to see her at all. It was rather like that. I was the moon when the sun came out….

The obsessive lover may seem the most obvious murderer. However, amongst the passengers, there are many who could have been overpowered by motives of greed or revenge. It isn’t an open and shut case as one would think, there are alibis and circumstances at work. As in any typical Christie book, Poirot’s interrogation of the witnesses is the highlight here too. You also get to see the plan of Karnak’s promenade deck, saloon, and passenger cabins with their names. This visual map keeps you on track with Hercule Poirot in the investigation.

You may ask – should I read a detective novel that was written in 1937? Indeed, for the old-fashioned crime scene investigation is quite interesting and entertaining. The psychological deconstruction of a crime makes for an engrossing read, something that is overshadowed in the technology-driven contemporary detective fiction. Moreover, the best part about a Christie book is that it urges you to go back to the clues once you have closed the book. The first read is when you quench your thirst to know the culprit; the second is to understand how Poirot unearthed the clues. Agatha Christie gives you and Hercule Poirot the same clues, yet his grey cells work in a different way. Or, you could probably compete with him and in the end, compare the notes!

“It often seems to me that’s all detective work is, wiping out false starts and beginnings again.”

Death on the Nile’ reaffirms the fact that Agatha Christie is the ‘Queen of Mysteries’.

Order your copy of ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie from Amazon.in

About the Author

Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English with another billion in over 70 foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time and in any language, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. She is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections, 20 plays, and six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott.

I received this book as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program in exchange for an honest review. 

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