Three Grand Dames of Mystery: “Evil under the Sun” by Agatha Christie

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Hercule Poirot takes a holiday to the Jolly Roger Hotel, a small inn on a secluded private island and once again gets involved in investigating murder in Evil under the Sun by Agatha Christie. The story revolves around a femme fatale, Arlena Marshall, who, despite being married to the loyal Kenneth Marshall, has a real notoriety for her frequent affairs with men she soon discards in turn. This time, Arlena has her books into Patrick Redfern, which causes discomfort to everyone in the island, not least Patrick’s wife Christine.

Tension builds among the visitors to the Jolly Roger Hotel, which includes Kenneth’s 16-year-old daughter Linda and an old friend of his whom one senses would have been a much better wife to Kenneth than Arlena has been. Then, one morning Patrick comes out to the beach in search of a rendezvous with Arlena, only to be dissatisfied. Christine and Linda go to a cove to sketch and swim respectively, while others play tennis. In the meantime, Patrick goes rowing with another woman from the hotel and discovers the body of Arlena, strangled. Thus Hercule Poirot gets involved in another case of murder, working with the local police.

The detection team notices a number of things the various visitors have been hiding, and they discover possible connections to drug smugglers, another local strangling, and a dangerously misogynistic clergyman. This book includes intrigue of all sorts as it tugs at the threads of this knotty mystery and makes the reader certain that first one and then another character is the murderer.

The audio version is performed by Hugh Fraser. He continues as always to draw the interest of the listener and keep the book result moving.

When I listened to this book a few years ago, I felt the underlying thread of evil was too strong. Poirot makes a comment that he can sense the evil and justifies his listening at doors as necessary because murder is involved, even before a murder is committed, because he can tell already that murder is in the air. This time I was less disturbed by the darkness of the book, and I wonder if this may be caused by my listening to the books in order, so right now I am reading the ones written during World War II, when evil was so strong that it would be surprising if it didn’t creep into the books. Thus, I give Evil under the Sun four stars.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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