Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934) by Agatha Christie is another wonderful read by the queen of crime.
Bobby Jones is out playing golf with Dr Thomas when they both find a dying man who has fell or possibly was pushed over a cliff. While the doctor goes to get help, Bobby is left with the man. The man’s last words are “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” which doesn’t mean anything significant to Bobby at the time. Bobby also finds the photograph of a woman in the man’s pocket.
The man dies and the mystery into his death, identity and what his last words meant begins. Frances Derwent, mostly known as Frankie, joins Bobby in his detective endeavors. Bobby and Frankie remind me a bit of Tommy and Tuppence from other books of Christie’s. Bobby is reasonably reserved but still up for a good adventure and Frankie is much more adventurous and seems to relish making plans for how they will go about solving the mystery. They are a very likable twosome and watching their friendship evolve into romance is very sweet and enjoyable. The pair have known each other from when they were young and their relationship overcomes the barriers of class. Bobby is son to the Vicar of Marchbolt while Frankie (Lady Frances) is daughter to the Earl of Marchington but neither could care less and good for them.
This is a standalone book which is a shame because it would be nice to read more of Bobby’s and Frankie’s adventures. But I guess Dame Aggie couldn’t be expected to do an on-going series with all her characters as much as many of her readers like me would like her to have. Some moments in the book do seem slightly contrived to move the book and the case on and you do find yourself saying to just go with it for the sake of the story. But it is a brilliant light read and I could forgive these moments of contrivances because the story was so entertaining and interesting. There is also a wonderful array of suspects in true Christie style and two great detectives in Bobby and Frankie.
I did guess who the guilty party/parties were but there was still great mystery to the book. How Christie weaved together the plot was really as always quite genius even here in one of her earlier works. She also kept back the mystery of the man’s final words very well and without giving too much away played a trick on any readers who like to assume too much. I’m not too fond of assumptions being made so I quite liked her bit of trickery to be honest. Still not giving too much away it was quite modern writing in this aspect which was fabulous.
A really great read. Light, fun, intriguing and engrossing.
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