Agatha Christie 100 - They Came to Baghdad

With this novel, Christie returned to her beloved adventure thrillers after two decades where she focused mainly on her fair play mysteries.

Plucky Victoria Jones has just been sacked, but when she meets Edward, an agreeable young man, on a bench in London and learns that he is moving out to Baghdad to do work for a charity, she resolves to follow him there. Meanwhile, an agent called Carmichael is expected to arrive at that very same city with important information on a worldwide conspiracy to create a New World Order...

Well, this was an entertaining read, though be aware that it's a case of deus ex machina following unlikely event following coincidence after coincidence. Victoria is a typical Christie thriller heroine, stumbling onto adventure around every corner and having the wherewithal to get out of sticky situations.

Meanwhile, the enemy is their usual bumbling selves; one has to wonder how they managed to create such an effective, lethal organisation if they can't simply take care of a young British lady in a more permanent fashion.

So, no fair play mystery at all, and even the big villain surprise should be possible to spot by the seasoned Christie reader, because once a certain character is introduced into the main narrative, what else can happen?

But even though I'm not really talking up this novel, I did enjoy my read, and I'll have to give this story a 62 out of 100 for pure entertainment value.

1953 1956 1966
1976 1990 2014
The Swedish title is fairly similar to the British one, but again we avoid the contentless "They". "En flicka kom till Bagdad" means "A Girl Came to Baghdad". Six editions of this title seems like quite a lot - this is hardly classic Christie and was published during the final half of her career.

The first cover from 1953 is pretty good, featuring a stereotypical Arabic city background. As does the first Zebra edition from three years later. They are quite similar, though the latter seems to feature a chase through the same city streets. I like them both.

The Zebra edition had a second cover variant in 1966, and this one is quite obviously another Fontana style cover. But for once, it's actually the other way around - the Fontana edition was published three years after this one. It looks suitably exciting with the beetle and the background drawings.

The 1976 cover is another typical 70s cover, at least for Sweden, and seems to focus more on the "A girl" bit than the "Baghdad" bit. Not my favourite style, and isn't the way she's dressed much too modern? The later cover from 1990 is a bit too stereotypical for my liking. A sinister Arab with a camel in the background... Not the worst cover I've ever seen, but far from great.

The recent 2014 cover is again very typical for this edition, but this particular one doesn't even have the playfulness with the typographic details, so it's worse than average for this edition.

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