It's been some time hasn't it?
First off, big news! I graduated college! Yay! ^_^
I took a very long reading break (it might have something to do reading non-stop in 2013), but now that required reading is out of my life, I can really turn toward the series and novels that pique my interest. I also have time to work on revising my first novel, which after 3 years (since I finished the first draft), has me enthusiastic about working on again. Now I don't want to make any promises about becoming committed to this blog again, I really do want to pick it up again since writing reviews is almost as fun as reading the novels themselves! ^^
And thankfully the book I finished just a few minutes ago will be the first to be reviewed. It is Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:
The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything - until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: 'I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.' Yet in this exotic setting' nothing is ever quite what it seems...
Agatha Christie is a classic author and I just searched through her collection for a new adventure to read. This one dealt with Egypt and I've had it in the back of my mind to read for a while now.
(safe for those who haven't read this yet)
Let's begin with: it started in Egypt. I for one am a huge admirer of the mythology and history and culture of ancient Egypt, and so the fact that Christie has a novel set in a place where there is thousands of years of history surrounding the plot has me sold. I've never been there, and while Christie pays more attention to the plot and characters than the world, whilst reading you definitely get the feeling that you're in another atmosphere. One where it's hot and yes as a foreigner you stick out like a sore thumb, but you pass the pyramids, sphinxes, Abu Simbel, Philae, Elephantine Island (and more!) and the reader may not be familiar with some of the places (I wasn't!), but it's an exploration for the reader to want to look up these places. The culture is different and the sights are spectacular and before you finish reading, you will definitely have more than one story to tell about what happened along the Nile.
Okay, let's get down to the brass tacks here. The first chapter mainly introduces the wide cast of characters soon to be involved in the Nile plot and while it was a headache trying to remember who was who and why there needed to be so many characters, I promise you Christie will involve them all constantly in the story, you won't forget and get confused.
The beauty of her novels I find are that she may give characters flat names, but they have lively and colorful personalities. One of whom is Jacqueline "Jackie" de Bellefort, who was one of the most complex characters I think I've ever read (taking into consideration the length of the novel and how due to the wide cast of characters, she is only given an equal percentage of focus in the novel). Her scenes almost always had me at the edge of my seat, because there was reason for there to be tension. And yet, surprisingly, there are moments I think she's really about to fly off the handle when she acts composed and cool-headed. Some may consider this inconsistent in characterization, I found her written marvelously.
One thing I can say about this novel that I wouldn't be able to for the five prior Christie novels I've read is the fact that I guessed pretty early on who the murderer was, and was right! (Well, mostly... See below in the spoilers section if you've read the novel already or you just want to know!) ;0)
I want to add that what made this book even more of a rollercoaster was after the murder is committed, I thought the rest of the novel would be left to Poirot trying to solve it. However, Christie wouldn't disappoint her readers like that. She gives us more action and suspense and intrigue just when we think things are too quiet. No, readers will constantly have something to look forward to until the last page.
I give this book 4/5 stars.
“Fey...a Scotch word...It means the kind of exalted happiness that comes before disaster. You know--it's too good to be true.”
-Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile
Next To Read:
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
Agatha Christie, no matter if I dislike a novel here and there will always have a special place in my heart for how intricately her plots are. Writers need to have a plot and be precise and make sure everything works out correctly, logically, and coherently (as a writer myself I struggle with this), and so the fact that she does this over and over again just blows my mind. Not only the plot of the murders, but the plot themselves. They're so cleverly thought of and interesting--- subject matter ranging from deaths in mansions to trains to boats (of course I mention only the ones I've read so far) that everyone can probably find at least one of her novels which might interest a non-reader into reading one of her books.
But enough fluff, I just wanted to avoid naming any spoilers at the top of my spoilers section. Tricky Nicki! ;)
First off, in my review I mentioned that I guessed who the murderer was and was right. At least mostly... And I say this because I did suspect Simon as the murderer. There were several holes that led me to suspect him, even before Poirot revealed this at the end:
1. One was the fact that on his honeymoon with Linnet, how convenient it was that everywhere they headed off to, that Jackie was there waiting for them! He even mentions to Poirot that he made a secret plan with Linnet to go the next day on a boat after publicly announcing to leave ten days later. If the plan was secret, between Linnet, Simon, Poirot, and their maid--- that only leaves one of them as suspect to tell Jackie, and based off of the evidence, he seemed the only logical suspect. Also, how could she follow them when she even says that she's poor. Not any poor person could just travel to multiple exotic and foreign locations in pursuit of tormenting an ex.
2. And then there was the case of Jackie shooting Simon. I'll admit, when she was immediately remorseful and regretful for shooting him and he so kindly and quickly forgave her---after all the stalking she's performed on their honeymoon, I wasn't expecting that to all have been an act. What a clever plot Ms. Christie! So, for this point, unfortunately I did not realize until the end.
3. However, the next hole I did suspect Simon was when Simon asked for Jackie to come to his room. Poirot left them and how Christie wrote the scene, I knew that there was more to Simon than he let on. No one just gets shot and is completely forgivable of their attacker---so I suspected either he was threatening Jackie or he was scheming with her in some other way.
4. The sun-moon metaphor that both Simon and Jackie used (of course both said in the presence of Poirot---it was like they wanted to get caught). Yes, they were a couple for who knows how long before Simon met Linnet, so they might have begun using one another's phrases and words, but this had to be taken into consideration since they were both intimately close with the deceased above almost all others.
But by the end, it is revealed that yes, Jackie and Simon had schemed the whole murder together. Now, when I say mostly, I was not expecting the second part of the murder. I did not suspect that Simon faked being shot and that Jackie would come to murdering Linnet's maid and then Mrs. Otterbourne. How Poirot figured that out, I applaud him. I will admit I first thought it would be Lord Windlesham, eventually it all just came back to Simon who was just as money-hungry as would be expected.
Now, what I love about this novel is that there is more than just the main plot to suspect. What of Tim Allerton and his mother? And what of Miss Van Schuyler and Cornelia Robson? Don't forget Rosalie Otterbourne and her mother. But forgive me, Dr. Bessner, Mr. Fanthorp, Andrew Pennington, and Mr. Ferguson are important, too. Even though they're sub-sub-plots, there is Ms. Bowers, Louise Bourget, Richetti and Fleetwood. So many characters but all so interesting and have intertwining and collective interests. The ones that were the most unexpected in my opinion were concerning Cornelia Robson and Mr. Ferguson who out of no where proposes to her. Cornelia ends up becoming engaged to Dr. Bessner which I guess is nice--but from a literary stand-point I'm just staring at the book with "how" shaped on my lips. Another relationship that came out of no where was between Tim Allerton and Rosalie. Now, maybe I was just so focused on the main plot I didn't look at the side glances between couples, but these sub-sub-plots sprung at me on the end are more distracting and duping than properly wrapping up the story.
Jackie's murder and suicide in the final pages did take me by surprise, and the fact that Poirot was aware of Jackie's possession of a gun threw me off as well. He didn't try to stop her and the slight dislike I had for Poirot (starting around when he so blatantly admits to knowing who the murderer is without saying it---just leading the reader on for another 100 pages or so is annoying--- it's like in a competition show on TV when they're just about to announce the winner BUT it will be after a commercial break). I see why they do it, but it's just annoying. So while I love how Poirot can be sometimes, his character himself gets on my nerves as much as impresses me.
Until Next Time,