Book #28: Death Comes as the End (1945)

AC033_DeathComesEndFauthor: Agatha Christie
length: 191 pages
language: English
finished reading on: 6 March 2013

I picked this book up in Jinbocho, a neighbourhood of Tokyo famous for second-hand books. It’s an Agatha Christie murder mystery set in Ancient Egypt – that’s the way it’s marketed and it essentially lives up to that. Having a passing interest in Ancient Egypt, I decided to read it.

It was fine, as a story. A note at the beginning mentions that the story could have taken place anywhere, but took place in Egypt because it was loosely based on some ancient letters. The story follows an arc typical of Christie’s other work – a series of murders happen in a family, several people are suspected for the duration, and the whole story unravels in the final few pages.

It’s told from the perspective of Renisenb, one of the daughters of Imhotep, a rich merchant. One of her brothers is called Sobek. I guess the unrealistic thing about this is that I doubt that ordinary folk would be named after pharaohs and gods, but perhaps it was normal then. Other than that, it’s quite well-researched.

Renisenb is not a very strong character, however, and she doesn’t provide a strong hook like Christie’s other characters like Poirot. She spends a good deal of the book worrying whether she should remarry. I found this dull and old-fashioned, although the book mentions that Renisenb is in a relatively free position as a widow, and contains a few feminist notes, which I did find interesting.

The descriptions of the settings are quite dry and dull, too. It seems to me that even if it’s a story that could “happen anywhere”, we should still get some more detail about where it is happening.

The ending, however, was unexpected enough (even if it was very much following a formula) that I was able to forgive these flaws overall. But I think I still prefer Poirot to one-off characters like these.

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