Agatha Christie 100 - Murder Is Easy

A non-series novel while Christie's writing powers were at their strongest - surely, this must be a winner?

Luke Fitzwilliam is fresh off the boat in England after having served as a policeman in the Far East. While on the train, he is drawn into a conversation with the elderly lady opposite him. She tells him an improbable story about murders in her village, but when Luke finds out that she was run over by a car shortly after arriving in London, he decides that the matter might need investigating. And he soon finds out that there is no shortage of possible suspects...

I called this a non-series novel above, which is arguable - but I think even J. J. of The Invisible Event fame would agree that while Battle does appear here, he really, really could have been replaced with any other policeman.

This is not as good a story as any of her other 30s novels - Luke isn't the best investigator ever, and his sometime helper Bridget, while a bit more clever, manages to make herself into one of those damsels in distress towards the end. The identity of the villain comes a bit out of left field - to be honest, I can't remember too many clues pointing towards this person.

However, it's not a total loss - Christie writes with a deft hand, and her descriptions of the village goings-on and its inhabitants are intriguing and engaging. And it has to be said that the premise of the story definitely draws the reader in quickly.

I'll give this a 55 out of 100. Had this arrived in the 20s or in Christie's later career, this would have been seen as a strong novel - it seems more of a disappointment because it appeared in the middle of her strongest works.

1970 1984 1987 1988
Another direct translation of the English title here for this novel. As it's one of the less heralded of Christie's works, I suppose it's not all that strange that it had to wait three decades before being translated.

The 1970 cover focuses on Miss Pinkerton on the train. A naivistic drawing that still has some appeal to me. The next cover is another that could fit with any poisoning murder story. It's not bad, but not very distinctive.

1987 instead shows us a car. Or rather, half a car. Okay. And finally in 1988, we get another book club cover. And of course she is there - the woman with the 80s hairdo. Bleh.

Though to be fair, it's probably fairly hard to come up with a great cover for this story.


  1. Murder is Easy used to be not only one of my favorite Christie novels, but one of my favorite village mysteries and thought very highly of it at the time. But watched a lot Midsomer Murders at the time. So no idea how well it stand up to rereading today.

    1. Good grief, I can't believe I'm about to say this but...I...agree with TomCat. Can that be right? My memories of this are equally hugely positive, but I've also not read it in a long time -- and since I read it so soon after The Moving Finger I do, at times, get them a little confused. But I remember this being great, so will be interested to reread it in due course to see how it stacks up against her others (and, indeed, the genre as a whole).

      And, yeah, I'll not fight you over the inclusion of Battle making this a series book. IIRC, he turns up for about three pages.

    2. Well, I'll certainly be interested in reading your reviews if you return to this title again. As I said, it's absolutely not a total loss, but it feels very slight compared with all other titles chronologically surrounding it.

      The village descriptions are fine, as I also said, but the mystery aspects are not great, IMO. It's not hard to understand why Luke had to leave the police force if his investigations here are any indication of his skills.

      "Murder is Easy" is much looser than her other works from around this time, but if you like that kind of stuff, you should enjoy this quite a bit.

      I was looking forward to reading this quite a bit, because it was one of those titles that I remembered the least, but guess what - that's the definition of the word "forgettable"! :)

    3. Going by my dusty, somewhat faded memories, what I liked about the book is that the plot impressed me as a Buffet of All Things Christie. You have a murderer creeping around the village and coming up with clever little ways to kill people and make it look like accidents. I particularly remember the ingenious method used to poison the local doctor or the murder with the bottle of hat paint. It was a treat to read at the time!

  2. My feelings are mixed over Murder Is Easy -- the romance element didn't mean very much to me, not the kind that I would care about between some of her characters in her other books like The Moving Finger, Sad Cypress and even in Death In The Clouds or even in Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison which the romance element is central to the plot and is an overarching plot between 3 other books in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. But in Murder Is Easy, I didn't care at all for the romance. Right now I can't put my finger on it -- perhaps the affectionate dialogue between the two was a little melodramatic and unrealistic -- I don't know.

    1. You may be right. I'd argue that the romance doesn't really feel earned. As we get to follow Luke the whole time and it's obvious that he's interested in Bridget, if you only take a look at the surface, it sort of works that he wins her over. But if you look at it from Bridget's point of view, it really is a 180 degree turn from one chapter to the next.