Agatha Christie 100 - Murder in Mesopotamia

This is set as a prelude to Murder on the Orient Express and explains what Poirot was doing in the Middle East - apart from helping the French Army - requiring him to ride the famous train back home again.

Nurse Amy Leatheran is hired to look after Mrs. Louise Leidner, who is reported to be having nervous episodes and seems to be fearing for her life. It turns out that there have been threatening letters to Mrs. Leidner, and as she has a sordid past with a former husband, is it possible that she is indeed correct in her fears? Things come to a head when she is found dead in her room near the excavations conducted by her present husband. But luckily Hercule Poirot is nearby, having been called to the area in order to help the French Army with a case...

This is both excellent and somewhat ludicrous. One of relatively few impossible crimes in Christie's oeuvre, the unfortunate victim is found in her room, which has been under surveillance during the relevant time. I do think the impossibility falls to pieces somewhat as the novel moves along, and I wouldn't recommend anyone reading it only for that reason.

The ludicrous bit is obviously the identity of the killer and particularly the fact that they are not recognised. But let's handwave that a bit, and then this becomes one of Christie's best novels. A small set of suspects, a great narrator who puts a personal spin on things without being completely dim to everything and an interesting motive to explain the whole thing.

The second murder is a bit ill-advised and feels somewhat tacked-on. Personally, I don't think it was necessary for the story and only serves to make the novel a bit longer. But apart from that, this is top shelf stuff. I'll give it 89 out of 100.

1939 1959 1967
1971 1984 1986
This title had another literal translation. It had to wait a couple of years before the first Swedish edition, but not too long.

The first cover is a bit too rough and cartoony for my liking - the second one is a bit better, showing the living quarters where the murders take place.

The Zebra edition from 1967 again steals the Fontana cover, which is as sinister as usual, while Delfinserien has an incredibly strange cover. I really can't make head or tails of it - and believe me I've tried, it's the one I own...

1984 brings us yet another book club cover, and to be honest, this isn't all that bad. The woman on the cover doesn't look like a typical 80s book club cover woman. The shadow lurking above the window looks suitably sinister. Judge for yourselves if it's too spoiler-y.

If it weren't for Poirot's hat and the buildings along the bottom of the 1986 cover, this cover could have been used for any Christie novel featuring Poirot, really. Not Leslie Quagraine's best cover, though I love this particular light blue tint.


  1. As I've said elsewhere, this may well have been the first impossible crime I read...and all these years later, I have yet to try another one. One of these days...

    That 1984 cover baffles me; why do publishers put out cover that contain potentially plot-spoiling moments on them? There's that Case of the Constant Suicides one, the edition of Swan Song that shows how the impossible murder was done...do the artists who create these things not understand the concept of narrative suspense?

  2. Does the 1971 cover depict the mask that is shown from the window?

    1. Could be! I really can't be sure when I look closer at it, but it could be a depiction of the mask through the window.