“Why, I haven’t got an enemy in the world!”
When the main character utters a sentence like that early in a story, you know things are not going to end well for them. Death on the Nile, first published in 1937, is the third book by the world renowned Agatha Christie that I have had the pleasure of diving into. Previous to this one, I have also read Murder on the Orient Express, and one of my all time favourite books in the incredible And Then There Were None.
I enjoyed reading all three, which are well written and plotted very simply, but effectively, to keep you guessing right to the very end. Ranking the three, I would say DOTN falls right in the middle, being that little bit better that MOTOE, but not as riveting as ATTWN (mind you, that book would be a tough one to beat if you are a fan of murder mysteries).
It is definitely worth adding this one to your TBR pile though if you are a fan of detective fiction, and before the new film adaptation drops next year, which is a follow up to 2017s updated version of Murder on the Orient Express, and which already boasts Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer and Kenneth Branagh (returning as Detective Hercule Poirot) amongst the cast!
While enjoying a holiday cruise down the Nile in Egypt, famed detective Hercule Poirot is approached by Linnet Ridgeway, a young, stylish, beautiful and exceedingly rich socialite, who wishes to avail of his services in order to stop a former friend from stalking her and her new husband, Simon Doyle, on their honeymoon. Doyle had previously been seeing Linnet’s former friend Jacqueline de Bellefort, who now resents her for having stolen her man for herself and has vowed revenge.
Half way through the trip, Linnet is found dead in her bed, killed by a single bullet wound to the head. Naturally, suspicion immediately falls on Jacqueline, and the letter J supposedly scrawled by Linnet on the wall next to her bed as she lay dying doesn’t help her case. However Poirot is not immediately convinced, taking on the task of interviewing the ships other passengers to piece together the events that led to the young newlywed woman’s death.
Others on board the steamer include Linnet’s recently hired maid Louise Bourget and the trustee of her family’s fortune and her inheritance Andrew Pennington. Rosalie Otterbourne travels with her mother, a famous novelist, and is openly jealous of Linnet’s wealth and lifestyle, while Tim Allerton also accompanies his mother on board and is related to a good friend of Linnet’s. Also on board is American socialite Marie Van Schuyler, a bossy old crone accompanied by her weary cousin Cornelia Robson and her nurse Miss Bowers, archaeologist Guido Richetti, solicitor Jim Fanthorp, and physician Dr. Bessner. Rounding out the group is the tough talking communist Mr. Ferguson, who openly voices his distaste of women like Linnet and Colonel Race, an old friend of Poirot who is tracking a serial killer in the country and assists Poirot with his investigation.
While reading, I thought this was the first Christie book I’ve read where I felt I had figured out who the killer was early on. But while it seems there is an obvious answer staring you in the face, Christie does an expert job of planting tidbits of information throughout that leave you doubting whether you really have figured it out at all. Alibis are completely plausible for characters that you may initial suspect and as we get to know the other passengers better, the plot thickens with more potential suspects than less.
When the killer is finally revealed, you’ll likely be thinking that it’s impossible. But when the events leading up too and immediately following the murder are pieced together and revealed, it all starts to make sense.
Although, I do have one criticism. In the end, we find out a little extra piece of information that Poirot supposedly discovers earlier in the story, but keeps to himself until his final accounting of the facts to expose the killer. Could an argument be made that if the character discovers information, but it is never revealed to the reader, it counts as a bit of a cop out on Christie’s part in the final reveal? Or is this little bit of deception all the better if it keeps you guessing right to the end? I’ll let you be the judge on that one!
I really enjoyed the 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express and it had an amazing cast, so I’m looking forward to seeing who else gets added along the way before Death on the Nile comes out next year. Also, Gal Gadot is an interesting choice for the role of Linnet. She certainly fits the appearance of the character, but in the book Linnet is only 20-years-old. Gal Gadot is 34 this year, a considerable age difference, that I think will warrant some slight changes to the story as some of the plot points in the book are directly related to Linnet’s age. But hey, I’m a big Gadot fan, so let’s see how it works out!
Have you read Death on the Nile? What did you think? Let me know below! And if you’re a big Christie fan, let me know which of her other books you loved and think I should read next!