Hercule Poirot sits, surveying the beach of the Jolly Roger Hotel on secluded Smuggler’s Island. His fellow guests are oh so curious about the presence of the famous detective. He assures them that he is there “to spend the holiday. I do not even think of crime even.”
Unfortunately for M. Poirot even on quiet Smuggler’s Island wickedness can be found. The guests become audience to the very obvious affair being conducted between beautiful stage actress Arlena Stuart and Patrick Redfern, without a care for their respective spouses. And soon, Arlena’s body is discovered on a secluded beach, strangled.
‘It is romantic, yes,’ agreed Hercule Poirot. ‘It is peaceful. The sun shines. The sea is blue. But you forget Miss Brewster, there is evil everywhere under the sun.”
This was so enjoyable. The plot is not overly complex, but Christie introduces quite a bit of diversion with subplots that casts suspicion on several of the characters. I really enjoy the way she foreshadows events and presents clues, often just as off hand observations or comments that are so easily missed.
He waved a hand towards the recumbent figures. ‘That reminds me of the Morgue in Paris.’
‘M. Poirot!’ Mrs. Gardener was scandalized.
‘Bodies – arranged in slabs – like butcher’s meat!’
There are quite a few characters, but they were so individual that the number never becomes an issue. But rather than the main protagonists, it was actually the secondary characters that I enjoyed the most. The “tough athletic” Miss Brewster; hearty and bluff Mr. Blatt; Major Barry with endless stories of his time in India, and the overly fanatical Reverend Stephen Lane, who seems to see evil everywhere. But mostly I enjoyed the Gardeners, a wonderful American couple who are traveling through Europe. The loquacious Mrs. Gardener and her husband Odell provided just the right amount of comic relief.
My Judgment – 4/5
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