Monday, 18 March 2013

Murder Mysteries: Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

This was the second time I read this book by Agatha Christie. The first time I read it was many years ago. What was truly wonderful and special about reading this book for the second time was although I remembered the characters and the descriptions; I just could not guess who the murderer was right until the end of the story. Needless to say, it was a very engaging read.

On a holiday by the Dead Sea, Hercule Poirot overhears a conversation between two people,“You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?”There echoes the first thought of a murder. It revolves around the American Boynton family, a strangely docile, nervy and docile lot. The members include Mrs. Boynton, the stepmother to Lennox, Carol and Raymond; mother to Ginevra; and mother-in-law to Nadine who is Lennox’s wife. Addressed by all of them as ‘mother’, Mrs. Boynton is a former wardress in a prison. Her love for power and sadism drive her family to submission and nervy excitement to revolt and kill her. This is their first holiday ever and their interactions with the outside world make them realize that with the exception of Nadine, they are socially awkward to interact with the outside world. And the mother loves her freaky control over them. Her cat-and-mouse taunt at subjugating others culminates in her murder.

The other characters include Doctor Gerard, a celebrated French Psychologist; Sarah King, a young doctor; Lady Westholme, a respectable member of the British Parliament; Miss Pierce, a former nursery governess; Jefferson Cope, a friend of the Boynton’s; and Colonel Carbury, a senior official in former Transjordania. The descriptions of the places in this part of the Middle East are pristine and the thoughts they evoke, seen through the eyes of a curious and brilliant observer. The characterization and psychology behind everyone’s motive to bump off Mrs. Boynton is well-etched. Without giving away the plot of the book, I would certainly recommend it to all Agatha Christie fans and others who have not yet read it. One would not be able to guess the motive behind the murder.

(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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