1 October 2022

Review: DEATH COMES AS THE END, Agatha Christie

  • this edition accessed through my local library as a large print edition
  • first published 1944
  • ISBN 978-0-06-287971-4
  • 321 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

It is Egypt, 2000 BC, where death gives meaning to life. At the foot of a cliff lies the broken, twisted body of Nofret, concubine to a Ka-priest. Young, beautiful and venomous, most agree that she deserved to die like a snake. 

Yet Renisenb, the priest’s daughter, believes that the woman’s death was not fate, but murder. Increasingly, she becomes convinced that the source of evil lurks within her own father’s household. 

As the wife of an eminent archaeologist, Agatha Christie took part in several expeditions to the Middle East. Drawing upon this experience and exhaustive research, she wrote this serial killer mystery laid in Egypt 4000 years ago.  

My Take

This is not the first time I've read this novel - I am re-reading it with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading Group. See my previous review.

When Imhotep, the Ka-priest, returns to his family, he brings with him an unwelcome surprise, a concubine from the North, who is in fact younger than his recently widowed daughter. None of his household like the concubine, and she plainly does not like them. She tries to turn the family against their father and seems determined to stir up trouble.

But what Nofret, the concubine, does, as one of the family remarks, is reveals where trouble and evil already are present.

In the introductory Author's Note Agatha Christie points out that the fact that the action of the book takes place on the West bank of the Nile at Thebes in Egypt about 2000 BC is actually incidental to the story. It is a story that could have been played out against any setting. It is a story of jealousy, a father who dominates too much, and children who are chafing against the bit. The murder of the concubine is just the first in a series of incidents, and the author holds various characters up for us to scrutinise.

We see the action mainly through the eyes of Imhotep's daughter Renisenb, who is not always the most reliable judge if character, and she is bewildered as various members of the household are killed, and she is not sure who to trust.

The author puts her knowledge of Egyptian funerary rites and procedures to good use in providing the reader with an authentic background for a solid murder mystery. In all there are 5 murders, enough to overwhelm even the most vigilant family.

My rating: 4.4

Agatha Christie novels I've read

1 comment:

Hyba said...

I didn't know Christie had a mystery set in Ancient Egypt! How fun! I loved your review, and as someone who has read a few of her books already and has enjoyed them quite a lot, it's certainly a book I'd like to check out soon.


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