Agatha Christie 100 - Death Comes as the End

Christie's only historical mystery is set in ancient Egypt, and is one of her bloodiest, featuring no less than seven killings.

Young widow Renisenb has recently come back to her father Imhotep's home after her husband's death. Her father is an important man, though even more self-important. When he brings home a new concubine to the family home, the balance in the household shifts, and soon the first murder occurs.

There is no real detection in this story, which instead becomes a process of elimination as one character after another dies. It's still an interesting novel, and though my knowledge of ancient Egypt is limited, it seems Christie has a handle on things. What the novel does show is that people are the same throughout time - they have the same characteristics, noble or not.

We get to follow the events from the eyes of young Renisenb, and while she's not the most perspicacious of people, at least it gives us one person we don't have to suspect. The most detective-like of the characters is her grandmother Esa, who realises the truth early on but foolishly reveals her understanding to the culprit.

As a one-off, this is quite successful, but at the same time I'm glad we didn't get more novels in this style from Christie. I'll rate this a 64 out of 100.

1946 1981 1988
The Swedish title rearranges the word order a bit: Slutet blir döden means The End is Death. It rolls off the tongue a bit easier that way. But a fine title in both languages. It's interesting that there have been so few editions of this novel here in Sweden. I suppose it's a bit of an outlier in Christie's production.

The first cover, published only the year after the first British edition, has a fine cover - it might be my favourite of the 30s/40s covers I've seen so far. Rather understated and obviously inspired by historical Egyptian depictions.

Delfinserien uses the Fontana cover by Tom Adams. Perhaps a bit cluttered, but on the whole a pretty good cover here as well. And then we have the book club edition from 1988, which is a bit garish and obvious. Still, not the worst such cover I've seen.

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