Saturday, June 14, 2014

Appointment with Death Review: Nail-biting ambiance with an unusual finish

A Hercule Poirot mystery

Book: Appointment with Death
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Crime fiction (murder mystery), classic
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of publishing: 1938
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: In the back cover, this quote by Observer is an instant catcher- ‘Twice as brilliant as Death on the Nile, which was entirely brilliant.’

So, when I prodded to ship me this book for the monthly review, they benignly obliged and I was through this book within a few sittings.

‘Appointment with Death’ is a charming title. While the plots and the narrative of Dame Agatha are extolled all over the world, her power to come out with head-turning titles is a talent which has remained pretty much unsung.

The book is set in the Middle East in the land of Petra and our crime Queen has naturally borrowed a lot from her own traveling experiences of these countries. An authentic classic setting is a great precursor to a sensational murder and the author dutifully takes her time to set up the ambiance for that murder, which could so easily have been the perfect murder but for one Poirot….alas.

The victim this time is an elderly but tyrannical lady called Mrs Boynton who holds all the strings when it comes to her family (her children and daughter-in-law). So powerfully evil is her malevolent nature and dictatorial mindset that her family live a compromised life without any liberty of their own. So, when her corpse is found sitting on a chair like a monstrous swollen Buddha, no member of her family is perturbed. It is as if her death came as a reprieve for all.

No wonder when Hercule Poirot jumped on the scene, the moustache-flexing little big man had a suspicious eye on everyone. And how can you attribute the incident to a case of natural death when her wrist clearly had a puncture mark etched over it?

Poirot believes (actually he knows) that he can solve the mystery through a psychological route. And our little big man has accepted the challenge of finding out the hunter in a space of mere 24 hours. So, will he succeed?

Of course, he will!

The climax once again is something which will be nearly impossible to predict. All the theories which buzzed in my mind while turning the last couple of chapters came to a crash in that fateful chapter where Poirot reveals the answers before the room-filled gathering in his usual dramatic fashion.

The way Hercule Poirot unravels everything one by one makes for a delicious read. But, the key to the puzzle may not make the readers go up in delight. An Agatha can be compared only to Agatha. On that count, I would dare say that the end disappoints a bit since the author plucks out a rather remote and obscure connection of the murderer with the murdered.

‘Appointment with Death’ is certainly not a ‘Murder of Roger Acroyd’ or a ‘Death on the Nile’ or even a ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ but it is yet another nail-biting crime fiction which has all those ingredients only an Agatha can brew.

[Review written by me on behalf of MySmartPrice which funds most of my books these days and in itself is a great website offering everybody something of everything. Do check it out.]

Kindly check out the book at cheapest available price (Rs 78) from here   

-Ritesh Agarwal, 
a sucker for Agatha's books


tags: Agatha Christie books, Hercule Poirot books, book review of Appointment with Death, classics and crime


  1. Agatha Christie is a classic writer when it comes to detective fiction. Good review.

  2. I am a fan of Agatha Christie's books. It's been a while, however, since I read them. Nice review.

  3. Nice review...I read it long ago..when I was in school..but whenever I read a Doyle or a Christie...I feel the same enthusiasm and excitement as if it's the first read... :-)

    1. I hope this post will propel you to pick Agatha again

  4. Hi Ritesh,I didn't get a chance to read Agatha's novels till now..Your review is quite interesting..Would love to pick up this book..:)

    1. Thanks. You should actually, coz u will love the classic setting


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