Sunday, July 21, 2013

Death Comes as the End

My mom bought and read Death Comes as the End some time in the early 80s, shortly before I'd graduated from YA to Agatha Christie.  It must have been one of the first Christies I moved to my own shelf, and I tried out the "from the library of" embosser someone gave my dad for Christmas around that time.  Somehow, though, despite 30+ years of access and 30+ years of my ancient history minded mother's nagging, the book sat unopened until it popped up on my Agatha Christie group's reading list.

Recently widowed Reinseb returned to her father's estate and saw that nothing had changed.  Her father held tight to the responsibilities that he should have ceded to his sons and her sisters-in-law argued and sniped and manipulated their husbands, just as they had before Reinseb moved away.  Then her father, Imhotep, returned with a new concubine, a pretty young woman named Nofret who altered the household dynamics - and died violently while Imhotep was away on business.  Don't be fooled by the exotic setting; to Christie, Ancient Egypt is no different than an English country town.  Other violent deaths followed Nofret's, and Reinseb helps set the trap to unmask the murderer.  It's one of Christie's best novels, cleverly plotted (she "got"me, which doesn't happen very often), and the exotic setting added to rather than detracted from the mystery.  I'm surprised it's not better known.  Perhaps a faithfully adapted movie could solve that problem.

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