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Where is Hercule Poirot?

Death Comes As the End - Agatha Christie

Christie embarks on a fun, but not entirely successful, foray into historical mystery.


This book is unique in the Christie canon in that it is her only book set in antiquity. I'm not sure if this represents the first example of a historical mystery, but certainly I'm not aware of any golden age writers who were writing that particular subgenre. This seems to be another instance in which the Queen was ahead of her time.


The plot itself was delightful, and the mystery did have me stymied. I bounced between suspects until the climactic scene where all is revealed.


Where the book didn't work, though, was in the historical setting. Themis described the book as a country house murder set in ancient Egypt, and that pretty much describes it. Unlike more modern historical mystery, which works hard to create characters that feel authentic, there wasn't a single character here who felt Egyptian to me, much less Egyptian in 2000 B.C.


Nofret, the concubine, was any random young hussy who has captivated an older foolish man and is bent on cutting his family out of the family fortune. Imhotep was that foolish older man - a country squire who has fallen hard for a young woman of low birth and who is besotted by sex and a pair of blue eyes. And his family reacts in various predictable ways depending on their various personalities. Murder ensues, rinse, repeat.


It felt like the Lee family from Hercule Poirot's Christmas. But in fancy dress.


Two left: Sleeping Murder and Why Didn't They Ask Evans.