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.


Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

A very nice post Vanda. I remember having read this book probably back in 1963 or 64 and don't know why I keep at least the title very much in my memory. Certainly Mesopotamia was pretty exotic for a thirteen or fourteen year old Spanish boy.

Kerrie said...

you will submit this to Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival won't you Vanda? I like the reference to The Nursing Home Murder too.

Anonymous said...

Vanda - Thanks for this terrific post. I really like this particular novel, and that reference to Marsh's work is really funny, isn it? I'm so glad you reminded me of a book I like so much.

Kiwicraig said...

Nice review Vanda. I read this years and years ago (I read all the Poirot stories as a teen, not so many of the Marple ones), and having not read Marsh at the time, didn't pick up on that reference - very cool.