2020-07-03

Agatha Christie 100 - Evil Under the Sun

Another perennial favourite for me, this is another one of those holiday Poirot novels.


Poirot is holidaying in the south of England, and at the same resort is a famous actress, Arlena Marshall, who's famous for her many flings, even though she's married. She attracts the attention of one of the young men around, even though both her husband and step-daughter are present too. Not long thereafter, she is found dead by strangulation on a remote beach...

I still love this. The misdirection is simple (and partly based on an earlier short story, "Triangle at Rhodes") but quite effective, the characters are great and Poirot's investigation is well-handled.

To a certain extent, this feels like the final Christie 30s novel. She'd started moving into more character-driven storytelling with novels like And Then There Were None and Sad Cypress, and when we next meet Poirot again in Five Little Pigs, that transition will be complete. But this novel is more similar to Christie's 30s work, and particularly her best 30s work.

I'll rate this an impressive 95 out of 100. It's one of Christie's quintessential mysteries, and it's telling that it was one of the earliest Peter Ustinov adaptations - also one of the best.

1942 1969 1982 1985
1986 1987 2000 2014

This is another novel where the Swedish publishers saw fit to change the title around quite a bit - Mord på ljusa dagen means Murder in Broad Daylight. I don't think it's quite as effective as the original British title, but by now I'm so used to it that I often have a hard time remembering what the original title actually is...

The 40s cover above is a really good one. I'm not entirely fond of the angular portrayal of Arlena, but otherwise it's a very successful image. Delfinserien brings us a depiction of Hercule Poirot sitting dangling his legs, which I have a hard time ever seeing him do... But as this is the copy I own, I've gotten quite used to this portrayal.

The 1982 cover is another example of my pet peeve - why not use the entire page? And it seems the publishers realised this as well, because just a couple of years later they published a variation of the cover which does just that - make use of the entire front page. I quite like this depiction of the holiday house where the story takes place.

If the 40s cover was a fine depiction of the cove where the murder is committed, I'm less enamoured with the book club edition from 1986. It's not as garish as some of its ilk, but there's just something about the drawing technique used that doesn't sit well with me. (It doesn't help that Arlena Marshall is not supposed to have been lying on her back...)

Leslie Quagraine's cover from 1987 has fine colouring with the light blue and the sun in the background, but is otherwise quite nondescript. It really could have been used for any mystery. (Though I find it quite amusing how they managed to work in the Bonnierpocket logo in the skull's eye...) The millennium cover focuses on a beach setting with a number of deckchairs, but manages to use a colour scheme where everything is hard to make out.

For 2014's cover we get some gulls and a bright yellow cover as an indication of the holiday setting, but otherwise it could have been used for any novel, really. Not bad, but a bit too generic.

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