Book Club: Evil Under the Sun

14 Oct

Evil Under the Sun

By Agatha Christie

“Ah! Madame, I reserve the explanations for the last chapter.”

When I was about eight my father got the most frightful fiancée who didn’t like children and after a while banned me from their house. Just before this, when I was still allowed to stay, she made my bedroom into her sewing room. She was neurotic and used to put surgical gloves on to read the newspaper incase she got ink on her hands. She was an awful woman who, now, I feel very sorry for as I think she was a complete mess, but at the time I HATED her. One evening when I was very upset my mother and I sat down, made a little figure out of Blu Tac, called it Fiona and stuck pins in it. It made me feel infinitely better. But I still want the sofa from childhood home back, you bitch. I’d almost completely forgotten about the Voodoo Blu Tac episode until I read a fantastically similar bit in Evil Under the Sun.

I adore Agatha Christie. All her books are so much fun and also so, so clever. And I’m not ashamed to admit I love the whole jolly hockey sticks vibe. This, the 23rd in the Poirot series, is brilliant. I remember seeing it on television years ago and I was very happy when I opened it yesterday morning and realised I’d stumbled across the story.

This book is amazing as it includes references to fake tan, drugs and people boring you about their gap year – sort of, if you can imagine the people in their friendship bracelets and harem trousers are old Majors talking about In-jah.

Arlena Marshall is what I will delicately call an ‘adventuress’. She’s got red hair, for a start, which we all know is the mark of the blatant hussy, has been on the stage and makes young men, deprived as there were then of RedTube and dogging, go weak at the knees. It’s no surprise then when she turns up dead on a beach, in her tarty little white swimming costume and Chinese sunhat [read: slut screen]. Thankfully, though, Hercule Poirot is on holiday at the same exclusive Devon hotel as Mrs. Marshall. In all likelihood, has he ever been on a fucking holiday without someone dying?

If I had to draw up a list of people I wouldn’t go away for a weekend with it would be:
Miss Marple
M. Hercule Poirot
Jessica Fletcher
Anyone from Diagnosis Murder
Richard Hammond (personal reasons)

Obviously, it being Agatha Christie, there are a tonne of suspects, but, being the simpleton I am, I can never put it together until Poirot talks everyone through it. In a way, though, that’s the enjoyment. I never ruin it for myself by being too clever. A bit like real life.

The bit I’ve quoted though is a lie. There are at least TWO chapters after the explanation. THE LIES, HERCULE, OH THE LIES!!!!


2 Responses to “Book Club: Evil Under the Sun”

  1. mattdupuy October 14, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I get the same sense of joy at the atmosphere in Sherlock Holmes stories. They are not so much about the intrigue and the denouement (although the period detail in them is hugely enjoyable), but the articulation of a character so flawed, yet so brilliant and so overwhelmingly GOOD in everything he does that you can’t help but be awed. They also always have a suggestion of things going on ‘outside of the story’ (Holmes and Watson are always casually mentioning other cases and situations without properly explaining them), so that you feel you are getting to examine a small but vital piece of a much bigger tapestry that will exist whether you read it or not.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an Agatha Christie in its entirety, although my Mum and numberous friends love them. I have always got my impression of her from the many TV adaptations, which were often great (I particularly used to love Joan Hickson’s take on Miss Marple when I was younger), but which presumably miss some of that period detail and atmosphere because of the necessity of cramming a whole book into one or two hours-worth of screen time. I was recently pleasantly surprised by reading the book of ‘Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ (thought it was going to be a potboiler thriller and it turned out to be a finely-honed piece of cold war literature) so I really should go and get a couple and see what she’s really about.

  2. mattdupuy October 14, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    NUMEROUS, dammit.


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