2020-10-30

Agatha Christie 100 - Passenger to Frankfurt

This, Christie's last thriller, has a reputation as one of her worst works. How does it fare compared with other late career works of hers?


Sir Stafford Nye has been out on diplomatic negotiations and is travelling back to England by plane. His aircraft is redirected to Frankfurt, and while waiting there for his connecting flight, a young lady approaches him with a tale of being in mortal danger unless she's allowed to take his place on the flight to London. He agrees in the end, and this episode soon pulls him into a great plot of world domination...

This introductory scene is a fine thriller opening, and other thriller authors have used similar opening scenes to their stories. What differenciates this book from those other thrillers is that this is not a story. It's a whole mess of incoherent scenes that amount to nothing in the big picture. Anything that happens in the overarching plot (such as it is) happens offstage and is reported by characters in the opening of the next chapter of the book.

I'm reminded of Colin Forbes's late career works when I read this one. Everything in the world is one huge conspiracy, and the increasingly conservative authors seem as out of touch with reality as is humanly possible, seeing ghosts and ghoulies in everything around them.

This novel is as disjointed as the more infamous Postern of Fate and deserves as little consideration as that novel does in Christie's oeuvre - or less. It's a wonder that the intermediate Nemesis and Elephants Can Remember turned out as well as they did - even the latter, which is not particularly favourably seen, is eminently readable compared with this novel and, perhaps more importantly, much more coherent.

There are individual scenes here that arouses the reader's interest - Nye's travels to Bavaria/Austria/wherever, and Lady Matilda's visit there later come to mind - but ultimately they develop into nothing, and the disappointment almost worsens because of that.

Bit characters like Colonel Pikeaway and Mr. Robinson feature in this book, which means that they hold the ignominious distinction of being in almost every pointless Christie novel (they're in this one, Cat Among the Pigeons and Postern of Fate, and Robinson turns up in At Bertram's Hotel as well). Let's all blame them!

I'll award this a 2 out of 100, it's Christie's worst novel and should not be read by anyone.

1972

This is another title with just one edition in Swedish, not much of a surprise there. The Swedish title is a direct translation of the British one.

The cover image is pretty much okay, better than the contents. A couple of baggage tags with the title. I'm not sure about the colours, the blue background for the title is a bit too eye-catching in my opinion, but apparently it's based on the British first edition cover, so there you go.

No comments:

Post a comment