Book Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

After Murder on the Orient Express, this is probably Hercule Poirot’s most famous case and further evidence that travelling with the Belgian sleuth is inadvisable. Fellow passengers on trains and planes have bought the farm while travelling with Poirot, and here death visits while he’s on a Nile cruise.

christie nile

Poirot is in Egypt for a break and finds himself among an interesting bunch aboard ship. One of the number is the recently married heiress Linnet Doyle, on her honeymoon with new husband Simon. Unfortunately for the happy couple, they have been followed by Jacqueline de Bellefort, Linnet’s erstwhile face who also happened to be dating Simon when the newlyweds met.

Linnet is at the end of her tether with Jacqueline’s bizarre form of revenge. They think they’ve given Miss de Bellefort the slip, but she continues her stalking campaign, even though Poirot tries to steer her away, warning that she proceeds down a dark and dangerous path.

Also joining them is Linnet’s trustee Andrew Pennington, who appears to have met her by coincidence but who has actually rushed to intercept her with some urgency as there have been some financial irregularities they don’t want her to discover. There are others aboard with connections to Linnet, the family of someone her father drove out of business, a man whose love life she interfered in to help a friend and those who are jealous of her glamour and wealth.

Poirot meets an old friend too, Colonel Race, who is seeking a murderer among the passengers.

In the saloon one night a drunk Jacqueline holds forth on betrayal and deception, creating an ugly scene with Simon, during which she pulls a gun. In the confusion he is shot in the leg, and Jacqueline breaks into hysterics. Fearing that she will do something rash, Simon asks for one of the other passengers to look after Jacqueline and for a doctor to be fetched.

Jacqueline is sedated and watched over by a nurse, while the doctor arrives and takes Doyle into his care. Unfortunately, at some point a killer creeps into Linnet’s cabin and kills her.

Suspicion naturally falls on Jacqueline, but she was out cold and never alone, leaving Poirot with a puzzle to solve. He and Race now have two killers to find, and have to work to piece together where everyone was and whether they had a motive to bump Linnet off.

The novel is fantastically well done with Christie spinning a delightfully intricate web of subplots, suspicion and red herrings along the way. There’s blackmail going on, a jewellery theft and the investigation uncovers and IKEA worth of closets containing skeletons. Christie is at the top of her game here, keeping the reader on their toes as she winds through false trails, mistaken assumptions and revelations.

Poirot, who I am definitely warming to as a character, navigates this all with quiet confidence, using logic to reason his way through it all and uncovering a murder that is superbly intricate in its execution. The sleuth can be a little smug at times, but Christie pokes affectionate fun at his confidence and pompous moments, and shows a softer, more sentimental side to the man at times.

It’s a thoroughly engaging and entertaining novel where Christie layers in all the various strands and subplots in a satisfying way. The crime at its heart is ingenious and Christie has a great eye and sense of character, capturing a sense of all the players, even the minor ones. A bloody good read.

Verdict: 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s