Book Review – Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie

Hello readers!

This weekend, I finished reading the crime novel, ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie. Below is my review of the novel from a writing perspective, which was originally posted on Goodreads. I must add, that the analysis of this novel was a huge challenge, because of the pure excellence in its creation. Please be warned, this will contain spoilers!

From the outset, I loved how Agatha introduces us to the large cast of characters. Introducing a large cast of characters is not an easy task in writing; especially when the cast is in a detective plot. But Agatha uses wonderful methods without compromising the plot. We meet some of the characters through the eyes and movements of Hercule Poirot, the detective. We meet related characters through their own ‘dialogued’ scenes. And we meet characters for the first time through the dialogue of other characters (where these characters have met in the past). These are effective methods in which to introduce an array of characters that know, or will come to know, each other. These varied methods also ensure that the process of each character introduction does not become repetitive and mundane to the reader.

I was slightly concerned during the beginning of the book whether I would remember all of the characters, and whether this would distract from the plot. But thankfully Agatha seemed to have already thought this through by ensuring that some of the traits and actions of the characters were repeated just in the right places later in the novel. This process triggered my memory (and no doubt other reader’s memories) of past scenes in the novel. Moments such as these remind us of how quickly a reader can forget a scene and quickly be brought back to it when systems such as these are used.

As the characters embark on their journey, we get to know them, and their relationship with each other, in more detail. And each detail builds towards a perfectly woven crime plot – where any of the characters can end up being the culprit. Every possible story that Hercule pulls together has us believe that he is correct – until he makes us aware that this is not the full story and that there is a hole! Hercule is such a wonderfully clever detective, that he unravels everything for us slowly (also holding us back, leaving us itching at times!). In the end we wish we had his detective solving skills, because we just didn’t see what was coming.

What is interesting about this book is that the first half is a suspense story that builds through tension, and the second half of the book becomes a who-dunnit mystery. I found that this switch made the read very exciting.

There are many great things to say about this novel. I loved how Agatha addressed some clear themes in the book – social class, love, envy – and how she pushed the morals within these themes into the story through dialogue. i.e. ‘all that is gold does not glitter’ – Hercule Poirot.

We are introduced to some beautiful words of the era, such as HON and fey (I will leave them for you to research). This tells us that Agatha absolutely adored language, and that she wanted to teach us, her readers, new words; teachings that go beyond the story and novel. I believe that if you can teach a reader something new (a word, a fact, a new subject) then you have done a wonderful thing as a writer.

In my view, Agatha was not only one of the finest novel plotters, but she was an exceptional detective! To have concocted these plots without any flaws is truly genius. I love how she once quoted that she did most of her plotting whilst doing the dishes. I believe that it would definitely take more than sitting at a desk and writing to formulate finely woven plots such as these.

I would recommend this book to any reader and writer, just for the pure excellence of her plotting. This book was a truly enjoyable read, and I hope to fork out more of her novels (and hopefully read them just as fast as Agatha wrote them!)

Until next time.

Donna x


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32 thoughts on “Book Review – Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie

  1. I read this book years ago. Now I shall read it again, using your insight. Thanks for a great review/analysis.

  2. chaosm says:

    It’s so easy to like books by Agatha Christie. Obsession. Greed. Love. Hate. Evil. And murder.
    The psychology of characters with secrets to hide. The revelation of clues (so obvious yet so subtle) at the end.
    You know you are on an adventure which would satisfy when holding one of her books. Not many authors could give you such assurance.

    • Definitely, I totally agree! This is the first book I have read of Agatha’s and I can see how your comment applies to this book, and no doubt all of her other novels. I would certainly feel confident in any story told that she would deliver fine characters and plot, and a satisfying and clear ending. Thanks for your comment; you round up her work perfectly.

  3. rizzaumami says:

    I haven’t read it yet. But I read ‘Pembunuhan ABC’ by Agatha Christie several months ago and find Hercule Poirot there. Is this character used in her other novels too?

  4. JC says:

    Thanks for the review. I have not read anything by Agatha Christie, but I will now!

  5. milliethom says:

    An excellent review of a great book. I agree with what you say about Agatha Christie’s plotting and detective skills. I read this book a long time ago and reading your review makes me think it’s time for a re-read.

  6. I love that book as well. Her character development was flawless. Time for a re-read!

    • I agree. She created very round characters without having to embark on too much biography. Glad you are going to re-read. All the time these wonderful books are in our minds, they are alive. Thank you for your comment 🙂

      • It is interesting how books–that is key books, stay in our minds and have had such an influence on us as writers and, really, as individuals. It is the real power of this magic.

      • So true! I am always amazed how books such as this one, that were written a fair while back, can still resonate so powerfully with today’s people and era. I read a lot of contemporary novels, but when I read a classic, they seem to have the ability to dig deeper into the universal emotions that are within us all. I wonder if that is part of the magic. Thanks for you comment. Have a great day!

      • That magic keeps us reading, and more importantly, writing. I love your blog BTW.

      • It definitely does 🙂 Thank you so much.

  7. Scarlet Embers says:

    I am in the mood for a good mystery. I’d love to write one but am overwhelmed just thinking about embedding clues and twists.

    • I definitely recommend this one for a read then, Scarlett. It’s very clever the way Agatha managed to think of the clues and of every angle. If I were to attempt to write a detective novel in this detail, I think I’d be worried that I left a hole or something obvious answered! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  8. mrheslop says:

    This is a fun review! I loved Agatha Christie as a teenager. Her prose isn’t very stylised, because she aimed more for a looseness of texture which could convey people and place quicker and easier, allowing her to get on with the plot, which was always her true concern in her detective stories.

    She’s the best plotter in the Golden Age detective story game, and despite their slightly untextured quality her books make wonderful use of caricature and contemporary language, which you mention.

    (Of course, in some cases the language is simply hilarious today! Take her Miss Marple novel, At Bertram’s Hotel, where old women are referred to as “old pussies”, and the characters talk about tripping over old pussies on the stairs!)

    • Thank you for your comment, it’s very enlightening! It was definitely refreshing to read a plot-driven novel because I tend to lean towards first person, character driven novels normally – but trying to vary my genres and authors this year 🙂 Agatha’s way of capturing her characters was simplistic (a few physical descriptions and traits) yet very strong because she built them up through action. All this ensured that the plot stayed ahead of the game – very clever writing. Haha that language you quoted is very funny – you’d never see that as a serious dialogue in today’s talk! I will keep an eye out for that when I get to reading the Marple book. I’d like to read all of her books eventually 🙂

      • mrheslop says:

        You’ll have a job! She wrote about 80, though six were romances, one was a now obscure book of poems, another an even more obscure book of religious fables (Star Over Bethlehem), and a couple of memoirs, one of her second husband, the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan.

        Definitely seek out And Then There Were None… (original title Ten Little Niggers, changed for obvious reasons); it kind of invented the slasher genre, with its story about ten people on a small island who are killed off one by one.

      • I will definitely put And Then There Were None on my to-read list then. It sounds like a plot line I would enjoy, and it would be intetesting to see how she wrote that type of book. 80 books or so is a great achievement in a writing career 🙂

  9. This book sounds good I’ll totally read it,maybe I’ll reblog your post on my blog

  10. Reblogged this on ace and commented:
    I love this book review,I’m totally going to read this.

  11. M.L.Wulff says:

    Christie is a true master of her craft. My favorite has always been “And then there were none/ 10 little indians” but I will have to check this one out.

  12. alexraphael says:

    Terrible. I’ve not read any of her works.

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