11 March 2011

Review: MURDER IS EASY, Agatha Christie

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 419 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Masterpiece ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004APA54M
  • Source: I bought it
Product description:
Luke Fitzwilliam could not believe Miss Pinkerton’s wild allegation that a multiple murderer was at work in the quiet English village of Wychwood – or her speculation that the local doctor was next in line. But within hours, Miss Pinkerton had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Mere coincidence? Luke was inclined to think so – until he read in The Times of the unexpected demise of Dr Humbleby… 

Originally published: 1939

My take:
Recently retired, police detective Luke Fitzwilliam finds himself on a train, sitting next to Miss Pinkerton. She is on her way to Scotland Yard as she is convinced that her village has a serial murderer.
The conversation gets around to how easy it is to identify a murderer:
    Luke had the grace to blush. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘So many murders! Rather hard to do a lot of murders and get away with it, eh?’ Miss Pinkerton shook her head. She said earnestly: ‘No, no, my dear boy, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s very easy to kill – so long as no one suspects you. And you see, the person in question is just the last person any one would suspect!’
This becomes a central theme of the novel. Luke sees the death of Miss Pinkerton reported in the London newspaper and decides to conduct his own investigation into the deaths in the village. He analyses the relationships between those remaining in the village and those who have died. There are 4 main suspects and Luke vacillates from one to the other.

MURDER IS EASY is a well plotted novel, although by the end I was getting a little tired of Luke's endless and changing lists. The theme of how easy it is to get away with murder recurs constantly.
    So it boils down to the fact that it’s really quite easy to remove three human beings without anyone suspecting.’ ‘Miss Pinkerton suspected,’ Bridget pointed out. ......
    Let me tell you a homicidal lunatic may be the most difficult thing on this earth to spot. To all seeming he may be exactly like everyone else – a man, perhaps, who is easily frightened – who may tell you, perhaps, that he has enemies. No more than that. A quiet, inoffensive fellow.’ ‘Is that really so?’ ‘Of course it’s so. A homicidal lunatic often kills (as he thinks) in self-defence. But of course a lot of killers are ordinary sane fellows like you and me. .......
    Amazing how these people get away with it,’ said Luke. He was on the doorstep now. Dr Thomas had come out with him. ‘Not amazing really,’ said Dr Thomas. ‘It’s quite easy, you know.’ ‘What is?’ ‘To get away with it.’ He was smiling again – a charming, boyish smile. ‘If you’re careful. One just has to be careful – that’s all! But a clever man is extremely careful not to make a slip. That’s all there is to it.......
This is a theme that occurs in other Christie novels, how difficult it is to pick a murderer. Critics of Agatha Christie's plots often say she is too formulaic, that she often made the least likely person the murderer.

I read today that this is one of the few Christie novels to feature a homosexual.
    Ellsworthy was not so much walking as prancing – like a man who keeps time to some devilish little jig running in his brain. His smile was a strange secret contortion of the lips – it had a gleeful slyness that was definitely unpleasant.
    .. so it seemed to Luke, a complete change came over the man. Where a minute before there had been the suggestion of a dancing satyr, there was now a somewhat effeminate and priggish young man.
Superintendent Battle makes a cameo appearance at the end of MURDER IS EASY, just in time to take the murderer away.

My rating: 4.3

I am of course counting this for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge as well as the e-book challenge

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin