Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie (1941)

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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

Prior Rulings – The Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, José @ A Crime is Afoot, Ben @ The Green Capsule, Dead Yesterday

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2019: Just the Facts, Ma’am – When: During trip/vacation/etc.

Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Clues & Clichés: Perfume, Candle or Wax, Something in a fireplace, Crime scene: Beach

Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – August #8: Month-related item on cover

 

12 thoughts on “Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie (1941)

  1. ‘The plot is not overly complex’
    This line surprised me a little as I felt the criminal plot did require a lot of elements to happen and to happen in the right order.
    However perhaps you are more of a criminal mastermind than I am!

    1. No mastermind here! It’s probably more my suspicious nature (the only one I trust is my dog…sometimes my daughter…maybe my husband…🤣🤣).

      You’re right though, for the case against the killer to be proved many things had to come together. I think what I should have said was, that I knew who the killer had to be, and following the clues wasn’t really that hard (again, my suspicions at work). I had something like that in my draft post, but I have a tendency to over-think and over edit. Comes from having a boss who loved his red pen. Every thing I ever wrote came back more red than black😳.

      1. Still far smarter than me! I think you missed out on a career as a fictional amateur sleuth. I’m sure you would have given Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stiff competition. I’m sure you would meet much of the criteria in my recent list for what makes a good female sleuth too!

      2. Ah well to be in that category you would need to develop something akin to a consistent cough, like Miss Silver’s. I think Moira at Clothes in Book often counts how many times MS coughs in a given story. Suffice to say I think in one post of hers we were all convinced MS must have TB or something, she coughed that many times!

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