Agatha Christie 100 - Death on the Nile

This is the last of the Christie classics that I've read in this re-read. Unlike the other novels that have been branded with the epithet "classic", this doesn't have any groundbreaking twists and doesn't turn all rules of mystery writing on their heads. It's simply a great mystery.

Heiress Linnet Ridgeway is introduced to her friend Jacqueline De Bellefort's fiancé, Simon Doyle, but fate steps in and soon Linnet and Simon are married. But Jacqueline won't take that lying down, and when the newlyweds arrive in Egypt for their honeymoon, who is there but the spurned fiancée? One night on the Nile ship Karnak, things come to a head and Jackie shoots Simon, though not fatally. But the very next morning, Linnet is found dead, shot with Jackie's gun! It's lucky that Hercule Poirot is holidaying on the very same ship.

The page count of this story was much higher than for any of the preceding stories I've re-read, but I see that this must be due to the formatting or the size of the print or something like that, because it's not supposed to be longer. Though it feels that way...

But that should not be taken as a criticism of this novel, because it's awesomely good. Like I intimated above, this doesn't set out to turn every rule of mystery writing inside out, it just distils everything about the genre into the archetypal mystery.

Christie misdirects as wonderfully as only she can, and though the character list is long - some think it's too long, but they are wrong - she manages to juggle them as characters and suspects. There's plenty of motives for killing poor Linnet Doyle, though there will be those who argue that some of those motives seem tacked on.

Personally, I always have a grand time reading this story, and this time was no exception. I'll rate this a 95 out of 100, it deserves its classic status.

1938 1956 1978 1981
1985 2003 2015
Another direct translation of the title here. It's interesting to note that although this is considered one of Christie's classics, there haven't been quite that many Swedish editions of this novel.

The first cover, published just months after its original British publication, has a cover that I like quite a bit - it's the only one featuring the river boat Karnak. I just think it's a bit of a shame that it's done in such a scratchy style. (It's fairly reminiscent of the first British cover and probably took some inspiration from it.)

The 1956 cover is a bit less successful, in my opinion. Focusing on a fainting lady in that awkward pose - nah, it just doesn't work for me. I know it's supposed to feature the scene where Linnet Doyle is almost hit by a boulder, but you don't even see that block of stone anywhere!

I was going to say that it's heartening to see a title where none of the Swedish editions steal the British Fontana cover, but then I noticed that in fact Fontana had almost exactly the same cover as the 1978 one here - obviously they too wanted to tie the title in to the recent big budget movie. And just as obviously the book club wanted to do the same with their edition, so the 1981 cover features another scene from the Ustinov film.

The 1985 cover is taken from the paperback version of this edition which is admittedly from a couple of years later. The hardback cover looks much the same though, just with some typographical differences. It's not fantastic, though as always I like Quagraine's drawing style. At least he manages to feature the Nile in the background.

We had a large print edition of this title in 2003. I'm not sure whether they are stock photos from the movie or just regular photos from Egypt, but I guess they're adequate enough for such an edition. The most recent cover is fairly good, all things told. As usual I like that they play around with the typography and use the moon as one of the letters of the title. Its main drawback is that you'd be hard pressed to guess that this is set in Egypt.

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