Sunday, April 18, 2021

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

Chronologically, Murder in Mesopotamia is considered the prequel of The Murder on the Orient Express, and indirect sequel to The Mystery of the Blue Train. Hercule Poirot is on a trip to Iraq, when he is summoned to investigate a murder at an archeological site at Tell Yamimjah in Iraq.

The story is told from the point of view of Amy Letheran, a professional nurse who was hired by Dr. Erich Leidner - head of the excavation work - to attend to his beautiful wife Louise, who is lately jumpy and nervous. Now, Louise Leidner is something of a character. Nurse Amy found that the ladies dislike her, but the men adore her. However they mostly agree that Louise Leidner is a self-centered woman; seeking attention by hallucinating that she is in some danger.

Efficient and kind, Nurse Amy immediately gains trust from her 'patient'. Mrs. Leidner confides in her, her secret past. Louise was actually a widow before marrying Dr. Leidner. Her first husband was a possessive man called Frederick Bosner, who was a spy during the Great War. He was sentenced to death, managed to escaped, but later died in a train crash. After his death, Louise often got anonymous threat letters every time she's attracted to a man. Is it her husband, who somehow survived from the train crash, or is it his younger brother who also had a crush on her? She isn't sure, but she is in constant fear.

After Leidner married her, the threats stopped, but for a moment. Louise began to receive the letters again a few months ago, along with 'other horrors' (apparitions which nobody else saw). Is she hallucinating, or whether whoever has been threatening her, has come to take avenge? Is that why the atmosphere in the site grew tensed lately - as if there's a forced politeness around these people (Leidner's collegeaus and crews) who, normally, are like a little family? Then one day Dr. Leidner found his wife alone in her room, struck dead by a heavy unknown object.

Hercule Poirot finds the case as an interesting one; he finds neither alibi nor motif related to the victim. Therefore, he focused his investigation on the psychological side - the strong character of Louise Leidner, and particularly, her past.

Murder in Mesopotamia is one of Poirot's case, in which, the key to the murder-case is in the psychological side. While in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or The Curtain, the key is in the murderer's, in this case, it's the victim's. And for me, these are the most interesting cases. Clues, alibi, motif - we can find these in most of detective-crime stories, but not many crime writers put the emphasize on the psychological side. From the few, Agatha Christie is one of the best. This one, now, becomes one of my most favorites.

Rating : 5/5

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