Friday, April 27, 2012

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Plot: Imhotep is a Ka-priest in Ancient Egypt. A man with immense power and wealth who is both hated and loved by his family. Imhotep who is a widower is smitten by the beauty of Nofret and takes her as his concubine. Nofret is the immediate target for the hate of Imphotep's family.

Norfet thanks to her vituperative tongue makes too many enemies in Imhotep's house and when the Ka-priest is away for business Norfet is found dead at the foot of a cliff. Imhotep's family somehow convinces Imhotep that Norfet died in an unfortunate accident. But there is another unfortunate accident when Imphoteps' eldest daughter in law is found dead at the same spot.  Then what follows, is a series of horrible murders.

One by One Imphotep's family is getting murdered, but by whom? The evil spirit of Norfet seeking revenge or someone more insidious

Review: Death Comes as the End came highly recommended, and I have always enjoyed recommendations of other mystery lovers. So how did this recommendation turn out?

After you have read a few Christie novels you can identify Christie "Formulas".

1. Put different characters who are related to each other in a house and create tension among them
2. Have the family ruled by an old but Powerful Patriarch or Matriach
3. Bring in an outsider generally a woman to stir up the already boiling passions of the troubled family
4. And throw in a murder
5. Pin the murder on the least likely suspect (someone who the detective never suspects)

I can think of a few novels which use this "formula" like The Crooked House, Hercule Poirot's Christmas, Appointment with Death, 4:50 from Paddington, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Death Comes as the End also adheres to this formula in the same way but the only difference is that instead of putting the characters in a grand old country house in merry old England they are put in a house in Ancient Egypt.

Christie does her job well, you get a glimpse of life in the time of Pharaohs. The reader gets to experience how death formed an important part of life with the ancient Egyptians and how basic human character remains unchanged regardless of time and location.

Christie also highlights the lives of women in ancient Egypt through the eyes of a concubine, a widow, a doting mother and an old lady who also plays the detective in this book. Femininity forms an important aspect of "Death Comes as the End" as Christie takes as through the trials and tribulations of being a woman.

The murderer is easy to spot and I did it half way through the book and then whatever clues were thrown at  in the second half were used to corroborate my deductions.

I'm giving Death Comes as the End 2 and a half out of 5 Stars. Christie's Formula based novel fails to impress. I like the book cover though.

Where can you buy it? Infibeam or Flipkart for Rs 150.

Since the book is set in Egypt. I'm submitting this as part of the Global Reading Challenge 2012.

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