The weather has turned from grey and gloomy to the other extreme. It hit 31C at Fennell Towers this week, which frankly, is too much for my English rose complexion to cope with. It was Factor 50 all the way. It did however lend a lovely backdrop to reading Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie. I know this story well, having seen the film multiple times and read the book at least twice. Nevertheless I still enjoyed it.
Poirot is on his holidays at a hotel on an island off the coast of Devon, the Jolly Roger. His fellow guests include Arlena Marshall, a beautiful actress and notorious flirt. She soon sinks her claws into Patrick Redfern, much to the annoyance of his mousey and quiet wife Christine. The rest of the guests, including a retired Major*, a fashion designer, Arlena Marshall’s husband and step daughter, and Mr and Mrs Gardener a couple of American tourists watch as the flirting escalates and the humiliation of Christine accumulates. Sat on the terrace Poirot spots a sequence of events that he fears will lead to murder**. Poirot of course is right, and it isn’t long before the body of Arlena Marshall is found on a beach in a cove. It is a tough and confusing case, everyone seems to have a rock solid alibi, and Poirot supports the police in trying to work out what happened.
This is a hugely satisfying mystery. The characters are great, and I was particularly fond of the very talkative Mrs Gardener and her very quiet husband Odell. You will know people like Mr and Mrs Gardener, and it’s hard not to smile as Poirot becomes verbally pinned to his seat as Mrs Gardener repeatedly assaults him with hour upon hour for chit chat. The set-up for the unmasking of the murdered is very clever, Poirot setting a trap, and the actual mechanism of how the crime was committed is complex and as perfect as anything of Christie’s I have read. Add to it the summer holiday tinged with murder feel and it’s a winner.
*Obligatory in a Christie
** I have to say that if I ever found myself on holiday in the same place as Poirot, I’d pack and go home sharpish.