Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Death Comes As the End (1944) by Agatha Christie #20booksofsummer24

🐍 This was the only historical mystery story Agatha Christie had ever written. I remember from her autobiography, that she took her friend's challenge to write a mystery in Ancient Egypt (2000 BC), while the friend provided facts and knowledge of the daily household and cultural background. I have been wondering whether I could relate to it as much as her contemporary ones. But I am not disappointed, because this one could have just been any other Christie's mystery, except that the characters and setting are not of our time and background.

🐍 Also, its premise and characters reminded me a lot of Hercule Poirot's Christmas. It follows a family of a Ka Priest (someone who had authority to perform funerial rites to the deaths) in Thebes. Imhotep is a bit tyrannical widowed father to four siblings. The eldest son, Yahmose, is Alfred in Hercule Poirot's Christmas, an always obedient son; while Sobek, the second son, is the rebellious Harry. Renisenb is the only daughter, the most intelligent and stable of the children, while Ipy is the youngest and most passionate son. Then Yahmose's and Sobek's wives and children, together with Imhotep's old mother, and a family retainer called Henet, completed the household.

🐍 The family's rupture began with the arrival of Imhotep's young, proud, and very beautiful concubine, Nofret. Nofret is really the trigger, the seeds of dissatisfaction, and for one of them, silent evil, were already germinating there among themselves, unnoticed. Nofret's malice presence has just unleashed them. She was the first victim, of course, we know from the beginning it would come. Except for Imhotep, they all hated her. But then Yahmose's wife was murdered, and then somebody else. Someone within the family is a murderer, but which one?

🐍 If you are familiar with Christie's books, you'll recognize this trope of bottled up pressure snapped into murder which she used pretty often. And that's what I always love about her, the psychological effect of a murder. By choosing a large household as the setting, Christie played beautifully with the characters' psychology, which was the central point of this mystery, rather than the plot.

🐍 For me, this psychological element is the main attraction of this book. I couldn't relate very well with the setting, as it feels like it's just an unimportant accessories. The crime could have happened in the 20th century England all the same.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books


  1. I agree Fanda that the crime could have happened as well in any settling but I still did enjoy the historical details she included. I think she was proceeding on the premise that human nature is the same everywhere.

    1. Agree! I still feel that the ancient Egypt setting is just pasted onto a plot. I don't know, it's not my favorite, but she delivered a nice mystery as usual... :)


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