In honor of the fact that I’ve just watched this trailer (and because Death on the Nile is my favorite Poirot mystery), I will be spending this Mystery Monday reviewing Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
I can’t believe that I haven’t written a post about my love for Hercule Poirot. I should probably write a whole ode to this fictional character. I love him so much. He is probably my greatest literary crush, and I know how crazy that sounds.
Famous detective Hercule Poirot boards a steamer called Karnak to tour the Nile. While on board, he is approached by the successful British socialite Linnet Doyle who wants to hire him to protect her from her former friend Jacqueline de Bellefort from stalking and threatening her while she’s on her honeymoon in Egypt.
Why is Jacqueline stalking Linnet? because Linnet stole her fiancé! The honeymoon Linnet is on with her husband, Simon Doyle, was supposed to be Jacqueline’s honeymoon with the same man.
Poirot refuses to take Linnet’s money, but he does try (unsuccessfully) to convince Jacqueline not to give into her bitterness.
As the story progresses, Linnet’s life is continuously in peril from strange “accidents” (a bolder almost crushes this woman), and eventually she is killed mysteriously. The thing is, Jacqueline was shooting Simon in the leg at the time of Linnet’s death, so one of the other passengers must be the murderer. The question is, which one?
First of all, it is really hard to write a summary of an Agatha Christie novel without giving anything away. Maybe I should have just let the trailer speak for the book?
Hercule Poirot is one of my absolute favorite literary characters. He’s as good as any detective out there, but he’s different because he’s NOT a complete jerk (I’m looking at you, Sherlock). I’ve always wondered why some mystery authors choose to make their characters socially inept as it would seem that a good detective would have a firm understanding of social norms as such an understanding would aide in solving a case. At least that is the case with Poirot.
Another difference between Poirot and the more cliched detectives out there is that Poirot still believes in goodness. Despite all the bad he’s seen in his life, he still holds out hope for people, a trait which is most evident in this novel during his conversation with Jacqueline. As he tries to convince her to leave Linnet alone, he begs her not to give into bitterness and let in a darkness that she will never be able to put out. It’s an absolutely heart-wrenching monologue, and it’s worded in such a way that he’s not “man-splaining” to an obviously grieving woman but is instead helping her see the good that is already within her.
There are so many reasons I love this book more that Poirot’s other adventures, but part of it is because the famous detective actually does misjudge some folks in this one. Call me crazy, but I love it when an author allows their characters to mess up. It makes them human, and in the end, I think that’s what I love about this tale–it humanizes Poirot in the absolute best way.