Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie

Compared to the previous Christie book I read (which was, I think, The Hollows), this was a disappointment.

Why Didn't They Ask Evans is not a Poirot or Miss Marple book, but instead stars Bobby Jones (fourth son of the vicar) and Frankie (Frankie's the daughter of the earl) as they try to solve the mystery behind the death that Bobby comes across while playing golf. The two friends hatch plots and investigate suspects, with the twists and turns meaning that the truth is always just out of grasp for most of the novel.

The problem for the story was that, for me, it was too unbelievable. Towards the end, a lot of the twists and turns depends on extremely convenient plot twists, possibly more so than normal Christie mysteries. Some of them really stretched my suspension of belief (and ignored previous things in the plot), and kept pulling me out of the story. Plus, I managed to correctly guess the murderer early on, so the constant red herrings that the characters fell for was maddening.

And unlike most of her books, this ending felt very trite and unsatisfying to me. Not all the books end with the murderer being caught (Murder on the Orient Express is one example), but for this book, I get the sense that no one really minds that the murderer is free because he's 'charming'. And with two murders and at least two attempted murders happening, it feels to me that life is valued less highly than charm.

As for characters, well, I'm still thinking of the lovable Lucy from The Hollow (and Poirot, who's just so endearing) and probably because of that, the characters didn't hold much charm for me. Bobby is normal, and Frankie is the unassuming heiress who's very much take-charge, but somehow easily duped (although she doesn't think so). For some reason, they never came to life for me, and felt contrived.

It's quite sad, but this book seemed to hit all the wrong notes. Perhaps it's because there was such a long gap between my previous Christie mystery and this one, or perhaps my expectations were too high, but oh well. I imagine that if it was a novel by another author, I would have enjoyed it, but from the Queen of Mystery? This just didn't live up to previous experiences.

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