Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1941
Evil Under the Sun is one of Agatha Christie’s A-class novels. In my opinion. Its up there with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, Murder On the Orient Express and Body In the Library – all books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and rated A+.
Setting: The Jolly Roger, an exclusive island beach-resort off the southern coast of England. An isolated setting is a classic technique Ms. Christie has perfected. It means all the characters are gathered together with very few people who come and go. That’s a key factor.
Characters: Too many to be listed. The resort has attracted a good collection of upper class, mostly English guests who have come to rest and play in the sun. All the guests get to know each other quite well. However, two of them have come to know each other a little too well. There are two married couples. The husband of one couple is having an affair with the wife, a beautiful actress, of the other couple. In the midst of the gathering is Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective.
Plot Summary: The scandalous affair isn’t conducted in a discreet manner. The husband of the actress pretends not to notice, but the poor little schoolteacher wife of the cad of a husband is distraught and pitied by everyone. It doesn’t stop anyone from swimming or playing tennis or any of the other fun activities.
And then — the actress is found dead on the beach. Of course, all the main characters were either in plain sight of everyone else or otherwise accounted for. Also, no stranger came to or went from the island. It has to be one of them. I thought it was either the actress’s husband or the poor pitiful wife. The police think it could have been the actress’s step-daughter or possibly a former girlfriend of the husband. Fortunately, Hercule Poirot has been quietly observing everyone and everything. His little “grey cells” have other ideas.
As usual, Agatha Christie gave us all sorts of clever clues that could have lead the reader in the same direction as Monsieur Poirot but, again, I did not pay attention. I was completely shocked by the conclusion. And, that’s why I love reading the Grande Dame.
Of course, I highly recommend this one to you, but I have a suggestion to make the experience even better. I first read the story on my kindle, but then I saw an audiobook of the story on Audible.com. It was only 2 hours and 17 minutes so I said, why not. It was a re-ensactment of the story done almost completely in dialogue. There were seven different actors playing the roles but it seemed like thirty. It was published by BBC Worldwide and definitely lives up to the BBC’s high standards. Check it out here: Evil Under the Sun