“But I don’t want her to be hanged, I tell you! Supposing she was driven desperate? Love’s a desperate and twisting business. It can turn a worm into a fine fellow — and it can bring a decent, straight man down to the dregs! Suppose she did do it. Haven’t you any pity?”
Hercule Poirot said: “I do not approve of murder.”“Sad Cypress”, by Agatha Christie
Elinor Carlisle stands in the dock, accused of the murder of Mary Gerrard, a young woman she jealously hated. All of the facts of the case point to her guilt in the poisoning of the woman her fiancé fell head over heels in love with.
But one man desperately wants her to be acquitted. And that man knows Hercule Poirot…
This year’s #ReadChristie2023 challenge focuses on the methods and motives used in Christie’s works, and the first theme of the year is a good one — jealousy!
I re-read the suggested book “Sad Cypress”, which is a great example of Poirot at his best. He doesn’t make his entrance until almost halfway through the book, and this gives the reader a chance to see in detail the events that led up to the crime. Starting with a prologue with Elinor in the dock, we’re in no doubt as to what is going to happen, so Christie gives us every chance to spot the clues and work out what has happened (although I rarely do!).
What follows is a masterclass in Poirot’s skills — no unnecessary scurrying around crime scenes or tracing obscure foreign matchboxes… He simply talks to people, and whether they tell the truth or tell lies, he learns what he wants to know from them.
This will be my third year taking part in the Read Christie reading challenge, and I find it a great way to re-visit some of my favourite books each month (and a good excuse to buy them, if the suggested title is one of the few I don’t already own!). Next month’s theme is murder by ‘blunt object’, and I will be reading the suggested book “Partners in Crime”, a short story collection featuring Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, a lesser-read Christie series for me! Check out the Agatha Christie website if you fancy joining in too!
Pages: 189 (Fontana edition, 1973)