Thursday, June 10, 2010
Murder in Mesopotamia
by Agatha Christie (1936)
Amy Leatheran has been employed to be nurse to Louise Leidner, the wife of a renowned archaeologist Dr Eric Leidner, on site at Tell Yarimaj. Mrs Leidner has a reputation as being nervy and difficult, and seems liked by the men of the expedition, but not by their wives. After observing life at the expedition house Nurse Leatheran comes to the conclusion her patient is just plain scared. Then when Louise is discovered brutally murdered, it becomes clear maybe it wasn't all histrionics and attention seeking after all.
Hercule Poirot just happens to be passing through nearby Hassanieh and is invited by the local law enforcement to come and solve what seems like an impossible crime.
I did enjoy this story. Christie captures well the tensions of the archaeological dig, complete with interfering, jealous wives, absent minded scientists, colourful locals and mysterious priests. Not to mention the beautiful victim with the fascinating and secret history.
One of the little things I loved most about this book, was the fact Agatha Christie enjoyed having a good hearted dig at fellow Queen of Crime Ngaio Marsh and her 1935 novel The Nursing Home Murder. (Well, I hope it was good hearted!)
In one scene Nurse Leatheran is reading a book...
"I was reading Death in a Nursing Home - really quite an exciting story - though I don't think the author knew much about the way nursing homes are run! At any rate I've never known a nursing home like that! I really felt inclined to write to the author and put him right about a few points.
When I put the book down at last (it was the red-haired parlourmaid and I'd never suspected her once!) and looked at my watch I was quite surprised to find it was twenty minutes to three!"
Ha!!! And no, it wasn't the red-haired parlourmaid, Agatha wasn't that mean.