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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Endless Night (1967) by Agatha Christie is a gripping book with a great twist in the tale.
This book is narrated by the main character Michael Rogers. Soon into the story the working-class narrator who changes jobs regularly meets a rich heiress Fenella “Ellie” Guteman near the spot where their future home is to be. They soon fall in love and marry. Ellie puts money forward to build Gipsy’s Acre to start their new life together and Michael brings his friend architect Rudolf Santonix on board to build the house. Like most of Christie’s mysteries there is many characters in this book which leaves the reader with many suspects to choose from. Always exciting. In this particular mystery we meet Miss Esther Lee who warns Ellie to leave or something bad will happen. I really like Esther, she’s my favourite character in the book. She is just this interesting and eccentric woman who is just wonderful and intriguing. Of course in the small village they all think (or maintain in any case) that she’s batty but as the book progresses we realise she’s quite clever and very in tune with what’s going on. We also meet Major Phillpot who is the village ‘god’ and becomes friends with Michael, Claudia Hardcastle who Ellie goes horse riding with, Claudia Hardcastle’s ex husband Stanford Lloyd, Greta Anderson who is Ellie’s secretary and friend who Ellie asks to stay with them, Cora Van Stuyvesant who is Ellie’s stepmother, Andrew Lipincott who is Ellie’s trustee and guardian, Frank Barton who is the husband of Ellie’s aunt and Mrs Rogers who is Michael’s mother.
As the story progresses, Esther’s warnings begin to scare Ellie and soon she is found dead after going horse riding. The inquest finds that it was heart failure and falling off her horse which killed her. But was it? Add into this, Rudolf dies in hospital saying to Michael, “Why didn’t you go the other way?” Following this, Michael goes to America to Ellie’s funeral and gets the inheritance she left him in her will. But more death is around the corner when Esther’s and Claudia’s bodies are found and now Ellie’s death is being seen as possibly more sinister.
So this is a book with four deaths which makes it very intriguing because there is so many options for each death throwing the reader in different directions. I didn’t figure out the outcome of this mystery when I read the book but afterwards it was like, “Yeah, that makes sense”. Christie has weaved this mystery together wonderfully. It’s complex with four very different characters being killed but it ties together brilliantly and with that wonderful talent Christie had of a complex mystery been tied up with simplicity. It is a very clever mystery in which you can literally trust no one involved and the way Christie chose to write the story aids the overall thriller element very well.
Beautifully crafted and a great read that keeps you turning page after page and ending up reading more than you planned to read in one sitting. Wonderful.
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