Book Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

22 July 2011

Before we go any further, I would like to make something very clear: I am not particularly fond of mysteries. So, I will attempt to make this review as unbiased as possible, but it will be difficult. Why do I dislike mysteries, you ask? In short, most or all of the characters have very little that is admirable in their personality and murders, suicides, and all manner of killings are the norm (at least in the Agatha Christie books). Most of the books I love I enjoy reading because of the characters, then because of the plot. If the characters are not very godly in their behavior, I tend to dislike the book. I don't think there is anything wrong with mysteries--they're just not my cup of tea. 

Death on the Nile
By Agatha Christie
*Summary taken from the back of the book

Young, rich, and beautiful Linnet Ridgeway has almost everything. What she doesn't have, she takes. For instance, her best friend Jackie's man. When Linnet and her new beau embark on their honeymoon cruise along the Nile, nothing can keep Jackie from their shadows. And no one--not even detective Hercule Poirot--can prevent a crime of passion. But faced with the suspect's airtight alibi, can he even prove who did it?

I've got to hand it to Agatha Christie--she sure knows how to write a book. And she also knows how to draw the reader into her haunting tales. Bree loved this book and raved about it; so much, in fact, that she took The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder of Roger Ackroid (other mysteries by Agatha Christie) out of our library to read and loved them, too. Momma is the same way. Therefore, there are certainly those who enjoy mysteries (and guess the end--something I have never been able to do)... I'm just not one of them. :P

I know that in mysteries, the point of the book is not to admire the characters--the point is to figure out who commited the murder/stole the jewelry/etc. Be that as it may, it still rubbed me the wrong way when I couldn't find one character in the book to like (except maybe Hercule Poirot). You have a woman who writes inappropriate adult novels and her jealous and sour daughter, a moody son and his kind (but perhaps a bit too indulgent) mother, a wealthy heiress who steals her best friend's beau and convinces him to marry her, the vengeful friend who wreaks havok upon the young couple while they are on their honeymoon, and a score of others. Between the fact that the characters are not very estimable AND the bewhildering number of people in the story (keeping the characters straight was very preoccupying for me, perhaps because I don't read Agatha Christie mysteries much), I couldn't quite love the book as I do others. But that's just my two cents on the matter.

(So much for giving an unbiased review, eh? :))

I greatly appreciated how DOTN was a very fast read, despite the fact that it was 420 pages. I read it in less than a week. And it certainly kept me interested--a page-turner for sure. But it was a one-time read, a.k.a. a book that seems suddenly uniteresting and not worth your time when you try to read it a second time. Mysteries are like that. All the power and drama is based off of discovering the culprit. Once the guilty party is identified, the book loses its sparkle... which then prompts Bree and those like her to go out and get more mysteries to read. :)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
I recommend this book for ages 13+

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
"Motives for murder are sometimes very trivial, madame." ~Death on the Nile, Part 2: Chapter 6

3 epistles:

  1. Like Bree and your mom, I adore mysterious...probably one of my favorite genres for books, movies, and TV shows. Especially Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. But that is definitely something very deep in my DNA as both Pa and Mom are huge who-done-it fans. :) You should watch a murder mystery movie with us sometime. Even if you hate the movie we are always coming up with theories through it (Mom's always right) and pointing out the detective's errors in reasoning. As you can imagine, it's a blast. :P

    Love ya!
    Brianna

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  2. So very biased, Miss Elizabeth! :)

    Nana: I feel like we would get along quite well. :)

    Love,
    ~bree

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  3. H'm, I haven't read much by Agatha Christie. I'd like to try some Poirot since I generally like the television adaptations with David Suchet (I hope I spelled that right).

    I agree with you about the characters in mysteries; sometimes there are NO admirable people including the detective. But I think there can be a good reason for this. Plenty of mysteries are written as puzzles to make the author some quick money, it's true. But there are some that use the crime and the unadmirable characters to examine human nature. As Christians, we're blessed to be keenly aware of man's fallen nature: not everyone sees or believes in it. Sometimes fiction writers have felt it their duty to try to wake up a morally apathetic world by showing it some truth about human depravity. I don't usually like or recommend those kinds of works, but some mysteries manage to do this in a less obtrusive way, I think.

    I very much enjoy the Father Brown mysteries by G.K. Chesterton. They're collections of short stories, so easier to keep track of, and Chesterton was Catholic so there's a good bit of Christian worldview I mostly agree with. If you're interested in trying some, I'd start with the collection entitled "The Innocence of Father Brown."

    Dorothy Sayers (another British Catholic, interestingly) did some awfully good writing in the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but they also contain some references that are better left to mature readers (I'm college age, in case anybody was worried : ). My favorite so far is "Murder Must Advertise."

    As you can see, I am definitely a fan of SELECT mysteries. ; ) Thanks for reading a long comment!

    ~Edith

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