A rich heiress, Linnet Ridgeway, has got everything in life- looks, money, and love. She travels to Egypt for her honeymoon and takes a trip down the Nile on the steamer S.S.Karnak. Some of her fellow passengers are friendly, some are full of envy, but, then there are some who would like the world better without her- people who would rather see Linnet dead than alive. Then, Linnet is killed! Someone, one of those wanting her dead, must have killed her. What’s next? Let’s find the killer! Seems like a pretty straightforward story, isn’t it? A plain story which won’t keep me glued to the book day and night; an ordinary story which won’t intrigue me; a story I won’t be in any rush to finish to know the identity of the murderer. But, yet, the exact opposite has happened. Death on the Nile was superbly intriguing, intense, and unputdownable; a story that let me out of its grip only when I got to the final page.
Title: Death on the Nile
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: June 1st, 2001, First published in 1937
Genres: Mystery, Crime
From Goodreads: Death on the Nile is a pre-Second World War novel, first published in 1937. It shows Agatha Christie’s interest in Egypt and archaeology and also reflects much of the flavour and social nuances of the pre-war period. Although the novel is set in Egypt, an exotic location, it is essentially a ‘locked room mystery’, as the characters are passengers on the river-steamer SS Karnak, cruising on the Nile. Amongst them is the famous Hercule Poirot, a short man dressed in a white silk suit, a panama hat and carrying a highly ornamental fly whisk with a sham amber handle – a funny little man.
Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile after a winter vacation in Egypt. The setting of the story is vastly inspired by Christie’s own experiences on a Nile steamer. In fact, in my copy of the book, in the author’s foreword Christie says. “There were quite a number of passengers on board, but the ones in the book travelled in my mind and became increasingly real to me- in the setting of a Nile steamer”. Christie has beautifully fleshed out the characters and quite a queer lot they are with their contrasting characteristics. However, it was only after I finished reading the book that I felt that two of the characters were quite unnecessary to the plot. The story could have been written without them as the role they played could have been played by any other character. I think Christie put them in the story only to increase the number of passengers the readers would suspect. As it seems, the makers of the TV episode of Death on the Nile (2004) had felt the same as these two characters are missing in the show.
It takes over 150 pages before readers read about the murder of Linnet Ridgeway. Prior to the murder, Christie builds up an fierce emotional tension between the characters, which is intense to read. The murder is cold-blooded. I found it chilling and sad. Linnet Ridgeway is shot through her head. It was not the manner in which Linnet was killed that chilled my heart, but, it was the fact that she was killed while she was sleeping that I found very chilling. An innocent human, peacefully asleep, is shot. She dies instantly, without a struggle. Who could be so heartless to kill Linnet while she slept? The answer shocked me.
After the murder, like most other Christie stories, readers are put on high alert. Don’t miss any clue, any gesture, or any comment made by any character if you want to know the identity of the murderer. Hercule Poirot is amazing as always and it is exhilarating to learn about the psychology behind the crime. Did I guess who the murderer is? Well, I did suspect this person and this is primarily because I read what the Sunday Times had to say about the Death on the Nile, “As ingenious an alibi as can well be imagined”. This interested me and while reading, I kept on thinking, ‘Who has the most ingenious alibi in the story?’ My suspicions were later confirmed, but, I could never ever have figured out how ingeniously the murder was carried out.
Following the murder of Linnet Ridgeway, the way events unfolded, I couldn’t help but think of destiny and karma. Evil is an evil thing and love, mingled with evil can become destructive and consuming. And it was evil mingled with love that leads to the devastating ending, which I found shocking and very sad. Just as Hercule Poirot said,
“Do not open your heart to evil…….It will enter you and make its home within you, and after a little while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.”
True! Evil made its home and one evil lead to another.
Enveloped in sunny sands and the jet-blue Nile, the Death on the Nile takes readers on a baffling journey of love, envy, greed, and evil. I had stepped onto the S.S.Karnak with Hercule Poirot expecting entertainment and I received lots of that. Without giving away any spoilers, let me just say, readers will get more of everything- murders, murderers, and thrills in the Death on the Nile.