Saturday, 1 March 2008

Book Review: Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

It has been many years since I first read Evil under the Sun. I got it from the library a few days back and read it once again. And found it equally interesting even this time. A perfect Hercule Poirot mystery!!

Book: Evil Under the Sun
Author: Agatha Christie
First published in 1941 by William Collins Sons & Co. in London, and by Dodd, Mead & Co. in New York
Detective: Hercule Poirot
Genre: Fiction, Murder mystery
Location: Smugglers’ Island off Leathercombe Bay, England




Poirot's Holiday
The story starts with Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective ('with an egg shaped head'), enjoying a holiday at the Jolly Roger Hotel, Smugglers’ Island. The introduction of Poirot is very interesting, it tells us what sort of a character he is:

“There was one very important person (in his own estimation at least) staying at the Jolly Roger...”

(Agatha Christie sure made her detective overly proud of himself and larger than life..I remember reading somewhere that she gradually grew an immense dislike to Poirot over the years!! )

The guests at Jolly Roger
Anyway, we are then introduced almost immediately to the several characters staying in the hotel.

The very talkative Mrs. Carrie Gardener, the reserved and quiet Mr. Gardener (whose main duty was to agree to whatever the Mrs. was saying), the athletic Miss Emily Brewster, the narrator of non-ending boring stories Major Barry, a little fanatical Reverend Stephen Lane, the young and energetic Patrick Redfern, the almost plain-looking Mrs. Christine Redfern, the successful and beautiful Rosamund Darnley etc..

But who was the fairest of them all? Of course Mrs. Arlena Marshall. Men were crazy about her and women jealous…

The island seemed to be an unlikely place for a murder to take place but Poirot remarked at one point: ‘It is peaceful. The sun shines. The sea is blue. But you forget, there is evil everywhere under the sun’

His premonition came true soon enough.

The Murder
Arlena Marshall was found strangled to death in a secluded part of the island.

The suspects seemed to be many. It was a well-known secret that there was an affair of sorts going on between Patrick Redfern and Arlena Marshall. Thus her murder implicated two main suspects- Patrick’s wife Christine Redfern and Arlena’s husband Captain Marshall. But then nobody actually liked Arlena Marshall. The opinion about Mrs. Marshall was almost the same:

Reverend Stephen Lane : ‘That woman is evil through and through’;
Mrs. Gardener: ‘…but I have said to Mr.Gardener all along that there was something evil about the woman’
Linda Marshall(Arlena’s step-daughter): ‘If only Arlena would go away, I could enjoy myself’ ; 'I'd like to kill her. Oh! I wish she'd die...'
Miss Emily Brewster: ‘I am afraid I can’t have any regret for her death-’

‘Because the victim was the kind of person he or she was, therefore was he or she murdered!’ Poirot’s tactics to solve this crime was to study the character of the victim. And as always he was proved right in his methods.

Viewpoint
Agatha Christie’s formula for a mystery is generally well-proportioned with good characterization and a clever plot peppered with many false leads so as to confuse the reader. 'Evil under the sun' is an excellent example of how a mystery novel should be. I highly recommend it.

Adaptation
I believe there have been many movies based on Agatha Christie’s novels. But the best one is of course ‘Agatha Christie's Poirot’ the very popular British Television series with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. David Suchet is absolutely adorable as Poirot. He is just as one would imagine Poirot would be while reading the novel.

Watch this video from 'Evil Under the Sun'.
Scene: Patrick Redfern being questioned by Poirot, Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser). (Inspector Japp and Hastings does not appear in the novel)


There is also a PC game Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun. I have never played it though.. Hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to write a comment and let me know what you think.Have a nice day!

13 comments:

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What a beautiful write up!!! I haven't read Agatha Cristie in years and should start reading her books again. :D


Hugs, JJ

Novice Writer said...

Thank you very much JJ!!:-)

Anonymous said...
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Paul Burman said...

You're right, David Suchet makes a great Poirot---the best. Must get round to re-reading an Agatha Christie one of these days (found a box full stacked away the other day); you're gradually inching me towards that point with your reviews.

Novice Writer said...

My husband who does not read Agatha Christie has become a great fan of Poirot after watching this TV series! We are thinking of buying the DVDs now...
Wow Paul, do you have the entire Agatha Christie collection?? My review will be a success if you read them again! :-))Thanks for the comment!!

Anonymous said...

How nice ur writeup is.Keep it up
KBR

Paul Burman said...

No, we don't have the whole set by any means, but certainly a good few. We must have a similar approach in our family: my wife is a big fan of Agatha Christie and will periodically rediscover them, whereas I haven'd read one for a long time (but enjoy the occasional movie/TV episode), although, as I say, I'm inching back towards picking up a copy. But which one? Hmm.

Swubird said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I never seem to have time for fiction. Non-fiction consumes me. Both the Queen and the Crown Prince admonish me for this shortcoming. At least when I read great book reports, like yours, it makes me want to try harder.

Great review.

Have a nice day.

Stella said...

I've been wanting to ask you for a while now and thankfully I remembered - I've never read anything by Agatha Christie (yes, I admit it...). So what would you recommend I start with?

Arv said...

Nice one mate, vaguely remember watching this movie sometime back. cheers for the post...

Paul Burman said...

Tagged by Stella, I pass it on and so ... TAG---you’re it! N.W. you are respectfully requested to write a six word memoir. Further details on my blog, but that’s about it. Cheers.

Novice Writer said...

Swubird, Paul and Stella, you could start by reading 'And then there were none', 'Murder of Roger Ackroyd', 'Lord Edgware Dies' or perhaps this book itself- 'Evil under the sun'
Arv, thanks for stopping by:-)

Ms Cris said...

Read it many years ago. I totally forgot the story now. Maybe I should get it again :-)
I had every intention to marry Hercule Poirot back then. Too bad I wasnt there in his time :D