Classic Agatha Christie style, but not one of my favourites.
Set in the 1930s, an American family holidaying in Jerusalem and Jordan is observed by other tourists as being unusual. The mother, widowed Mrs Boynton, domineered her family – Lennox and his wife Nadine, Raymond, Carol and Ginevra. On a trip to Petra Mrs Boynton is found dead, and the family members are under suspicion. Hercule Poirot is asked to investigate.
“And then, suddenly, the old woman’s eyes were full on him, and he drew in his breath sharply. Small black smouldering eyes they were, but something came from them, a power, a definite force, a wave of evil malignancy.”
“We will make them tell us what it is,” said Poirot.~Quotes from “Appointment With Death” by Agatha Christie
“Third degree?” said Colonel Carbury.
“No.” Poirot shook his head. “Just ordinary conversation. On the whole, you know, people tell you the truth. Because it is easier! Because it is less strain on the inventive faculties! You can tell one lie – or two lies – or three lies or even four lies – but you cannot lie all the time. And so – the truth becomes plain.”
- Fandom: Simon Nowell-Smith’s review in the Times Literary Supplement of 7 May 1938 concluded that “Poirot, if the mellowing influence of time has softened many of his mannerisms, has lost none of his skill. His examination of the family, the psychologists and the few others in the party, his sifting of truth from half-truth and contradiction, his playing off one suspect against another and gradual elimination of each in turn are in Mrs Christie’s most brilliant style. Only the solution appears a trifle tame and disappointing.”
- Fandom: In The New York Times Book Review for 11 September 1938, Kay Irvin said, “Even a lesser Agatha Christie story holds its readers’ attention with its skillful management of suspense. Appointment with Death is decidedly of the lesser ranks: indeed, it comes close to being the least solid and satisfactory of all the Poirot mystery tales. Its presentation of a family harried and tortured by a sadistic matriarch is shot full of psychological conversation and almost entirely deficient in plot. And yet, when the evil-hearted old tyrant has been murdered at last and Poirot considers the suspects, one follows with genuine interest the unraveling of even unexciting clues.”
- Fandom: The Scotsman of 9 May 1938 said, “As usual, Miss Christie plays fair with her readers. While the solution comes with a shock of surprise, it is logical enough: the clues are there, one could fasten upon them and assess their importance. Perhaps it is another case of the reader being unable to see the wood for the trees; but there are so many trees. Not this author’s best crime novel, Appointment with Death is yet clever enough and convincing enough to stand head and shoulders above the average work of the kind.”
Adaptations: 1. A 1988 movie, “Appointment with Death” starred Peter Ustinov, Lauren Bacall, Carrie Fisher, Sir John Gielgud, Piper Laurie, Hayley Mills, Jenny Seagrove and David Soul. 2. A 1945 West End theatrical adaptation of the original 1938 novel. 3. An episode in a 2008 television series was adapted for the eleventh season of the series Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Poirot. The storyline deviates significantly from the original novel.
Author – Official site: The Home of Agatha Christie