Author: Agatha Christie
Publication: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, hardcover, 1965 (originally published in 1937 or 1938)
Setting: Petra (modern day Jordan)
“You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?”Poirot dismisses what he heard but thinks he would know the voice again. Soon he encounters the Boynton family, a gorgon-like mother with four adult children and a daughter-in-law, traveling from America. They seem unhappily in thrall to her, not permitted to make friends or talk to the other guests at the hotel, although one in particular, Sarah King, who has just completed her medical degree, is interested in Raymond Boynton and his sister Carol, both about her age. The Boyntons and another group of tourists that includes Sarah travel to Petra, a famous archaeological site in Jordan's southwestern desert dating to around 300 B.C. When Mrs. Boynton dies, no one regrets her passing but Hercule Poirot, who has now recognized the voice he overheard at the hotel, is called in to find the murderer, focusing on the family who hated her and whose alibis are suspicious.
The question floated out in the still night air, seemed to hang there a moment and then drift away down into the darkness towards the Dead Sea.
Hercule Poirot paused a minute with his hand on the window catch.
Frowning, he shut it decisively, thereby excluding any injurious night air!
My Impression: Agatha Christie was extremely aware of evil and in this book she creates a Shelob-like victim who has terrorized her three adult stepchildren and her own child, a fey teenager. Sarah tries to befriend Raymond and Carol, and they try to reciprocate before Mrs. Boynton mesmerizes them into compliance.
“Freedom?” Carol stared at her. “None of us have ever been free. We never will be.”Christie observes that Sarah, a decisive young woman who recently broke up with a doctor who was equally strong-minded, is attracted to Raymond because he needs to be rescued. Mrs. Boynton is just as determined to keep her children away from Sarah.
“Nonsense!” said Sarah clearly.
Carol leaned forward and touched her arm.
“Listen. I must make you understand! Before her marriage my mother – she’s my stepmother really – was a wardress in prison. My father was the Governor and he married her. Well, it’s been like that ever since. She’s gone on being a wardress – to us. That’s why our life is just – being in prison!”
Her head jerked around again.
“They’ve missed me. I – I must go.”
|Sarah encounters the Boyntons at the famous|
temple in Petra, the Haram-esh-Sharif
Appointment with Death is the September book for Read Christie 2023 and my twenty-fifth book for Carol’s Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.Source: Library
(Temple photo copyright to Jordan Times)