Skip to main content

Review: Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie

This novel opens where one might expect a legal drama to begin: at a criminal arraignment. Elinor Carlisle stands accused of the murder of another young woman: Mary Gerrard. The story then flashes back to the events leading up to this scene, hopping from one character to another to show various viewpoints, including that of the murdered woman and of Elinor, who is shown to have had more than one reason for wanting Mary dead. All the evidence points to her having done it, but one man doubts it so strongly that he contacts Hercule Poirot and sets him the task of proving Elinor‘s innocence. But Poirot is not so easily ordered around, and he sets out to discover the true circumstances of the murder, whoever the murderer might be, because, as he says: „I do not approve of murder.“

Unlike my previous Christie read, Murder at the Vicarage, this story has very little humour in it and isn‘t at all frothy, like some of Christie‘s other mysteries. The beginning could be mistaken for the start of a juicy melodrama, but fortunately it develops instead into a psychological thriller, posing the question: Did she or didn‘t she?

This story is more emotionally involved than those in many – I might even say most – of Christie‘s other books. The third person omniscient narrator allows the reader a look into the heads of some of the characters (rare for Christie, who usually saves that sort of thing for her first person narrators, who then tend to recount observations and express opinions rather than emotions). One of those characters is Elinor, who is shown to be a passionate young woman, equally capable of deep love and blazing hatred, but able to hide her feelings under a somewhat frosty exterior.

The cast of characters is small and the suspects are even fewer, and most are drawn with a deft hand and shown to have some depth, with the exception of the Irish nurse who is a veritable stereotype of both her profession and her nationality. Clues are, for the most part, laid out fair and square, but it will require skill and knowledge if the reader wishes to get to the truth before Poirot reveals all.

Final words: This is one of the better Christie mysteries I have read – I wouldn‘t hesitate to place it in the top 10 of my favorites among her books.

Comments

Christina T said…
I read this one years ago after seeing a film version with David Suchet's Poirot. I need to reread Agatha Christie sometime. I mostly read her books as a teen about 20 years ago so it would be good to read them from the perspective of an adult.

Nice review!

Popular posts from this blog

Reading report for January 2014

Here it is, finally: the reading report for January. (February‘s report is in the works: I have it entered into Excel and I just need to transfer it into Word, edit the layout and write the preface. It will either take a couple of days or a couple of months).

I finished 26 books in January, although admittedly a number of them were novellas. As I mentioned in my previous post, I delved into a new(ish) type of genre: gay (or M/M) romance. I found everything from genuinely sweet romance to hardcore BDSM, in sub-genres like fantasy, suspense and mystery and even a quartet of entertaining (and unlikely) rock star romances. Other books I read in January include the highly enjoyable memoir of cooking doyenne Julia Child, two straight romances, and Jennifer Worth‘s trilogy of memoirs about her experiences as a midwife in a London slum in the 1950s. I also watched the first season of the TV series based on these books and may (I say 'may') write something about this when I have finis…

How to make a simple origami bookmark

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple origami (paper folding) bookmark:

Take a square of paper. It can be patterned origami paper, gift paper or even office paper, just as long as it’s easy to fold. The square should not be much bigger than 10 cm/4 inches across, unless you intend to use the mark for a big book. The images show what the paper should look like after you follow each step of the instructions. The two sides of the paper are shown in different colours to make things easier, and the edges and fold lines are shown as black lines.


Fold the paper in half diagonally (corner to corner), and then unfold. Repeat with the other two corners. This is to find the middle and to make the rest of the folding easier. If the paper is thick or stiff it can help to reverse the folds.



Fold three of the corners in so that they meet in the middle. You now have a piece of paper resembling an open envelope. For the next two steps, ignore the flap.



Fold the square diagonally in two. You…

List love: A growing list of recommended books with elderly protagonists or significant elderly characters

I think it's about time I posted this, as I have been working on it for a couple of months.
I feel there isn’t enough fiction written about the elderly, or at least about the elderly as protagonists. The elderly in fiction tend to be supporting characters, often wise elders (such as  Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books) or cranky old neighbour types (e.g. the faculty of Unseen University in the Discworld series) or helpless oldsters (any number of books, especially children’s books) for the protagonist to either help or abuse (depending on whether they’re a hero or not).
Terry Pratchett has written several of my favourite elderly protagonists and they always kick ass in one way or another, so you will see several of his books on this list, either as listed items or ‘also’ mentions.
Without further ado: Here is a list of books with elderly protagonists or significant, important elderly characters. I leave it up to you to decide if you’re interested or not, but I certainly enjoyed…