“La vie est vaine.
Un peu d’amour,
Un peu de haine,
Et puis bonjour.
La vie est brève.
Un peu d’espoir,
Un peu de rêve,
Et puis bonsoir.”
-Leon de Montenaeken, as sung by the great Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot
4,000 years after the events in “Death Comes as the End,” and Egypt is still a dangerous place to visit with Agatha Christie. “Death on the Nile” is one of Christie’s best loved “vacation” novels: passion and murder intersect during a cruise down the great river.
Glitzy socialite Lynnet Doyle seems to have it all, including a handsome new husband with whom she’s honeymooning on a luxurious Egyptian cruise ship. Unfortunately for Lynnet, she stole the hubby from a former best friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort. Poor Jacqueline bitterly stalks the new couple as they spend their honeymoon in a luxurious Egyptian cruise ship; she threatens them; she waves around a little gun … is she going to be the killer?
Not so fast! The ship is also carrying a wide variety of tourists, many of them worthy of our suspicions. When the death announced in the title does happen, a certain little mustachioed foreigner must intervene. (No, it’s not Mario.)
Christie’s novels don’t usually need re-reading, (aside from “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” ) but they reward it, or at least don’t punish it. If you read enough Christie, eventually you will come back to an old one, if only because they’re forgettable in the BEST of possible ways. (I can’t tell you which one is “The Mystery of Seven Dials” and which one is “The Secret of Chimneys,” but if I accidentally happen to re-read them, as has happened, I CAN tell you that I WILL enjoy them again.) “Death on the Nile” was a voluntary re-read, and I also vividly recall most of the above-average movie adaptation with Peter Ustinov:
Knowing the solution actually freed me to notice the clever manipulations (“he seemed startled” is not the same as “he was startled”); the gentle placement of red herrings (so that they have rewards and aren’t just there to frustrate you); and how FAIR she is in her games. If you know what’s coming in advance, you’ll notice her killers are always like: “LOOK AT MEEE, IT WAS MEEEEEEEEEE, I DID IT!!!” The answer is as plain as the nose on the Sphinx’s face…
Or maybe not…
RATING : MASTERPIECE!!!