Ordeal by Innocence
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Ordeal by Innocence

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  4,243 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Recovering from amnesia, Dr. Arthur Calgary discovers that he alone could have provided an alibi in a scandalous murder trial. It ended in the conviction of Jacko Argyle. The victim was Jacko's own mother, and to make matters worse, he died in prison. But the young man's innocence means that someone else killed the Argyle matriarch, and would certainly kill again to remain...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 19th 2002 by Minotaur Books (first published 1958)
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And Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieThe A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Best Agatha Christie Book
54th out of 75 books — 538 voters
Things Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeBreakfast at Tiffany's by Truman CapoteThe Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. SeussA Bear Called Paddington by Michael BondBrave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Best Books of 1958
12th out of 65 books — 29 voters

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Community Reviews

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Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jan 21, 2013 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Christie fans, fans of psychological mysteries
You really have to admire 1950s for their marvelous plot devices. Amnesiacs, mistaken identities, and in this mystery by Agatha Christie, a man with a concussion fails to provide an alibi, and shortly after recovering, heads off to Antarctica for a research expedition. Barring that somewhat awkward premise, Ordeal was an interesting psychological mystery that kept me engaged.

Dr. Calgary, the Antarctic research scientist, discovers through old newspaper articles that he was the missing alibi for...more
mark monday
Choose Your Own Adventure!

Did you kill the Argyle matriarch? ‘Tis true, she was an awful sort. A control freak: dramatically highly-strung and passionately venomous, her grasping hands ever eager to twist and to bind, to bind you and others to her. She is played by Faye Dunaway in tiny flashback sequences and that is certainly apropos casting. Mama Argyle was ever so unfair to you. She never let you do what you wanted, it was always her, Her, HER! She deserved to die, damn it! The world is a bet...more
"Oh, justice! It's not the guilty who matter. It is the innocent." Hester Argyle cries at the end of Dr. Calgary's initial revelation of Jacko's innocence.

There is no murder in the beginning, as Rachel Argyle has been dead for two years, bludgeoned to death by a fireplace poker in her secured home. All of her five foster children were home at the time, and a violent argument was observed between their mother and the black sheep of the family, Jacko on the day of her death.

Now adults, the Argyle...more
Laurel Young
Agatha Christie claimed that, of all her many novels, Ordeal by Innocence and Crooked House pleased her best. Crooked House is one of my absolute favorites, but I had rather forgotten how very good Ordeal by Innocence is. The premise is gripping: an innocent man convicted wrongly of murdering his adopted mother has died in prison, but new evidence shows that he had an alibi. This means that the murderer is still at large, but it must be a member of his family. The closed setting of the family ci...more
Ick. Not one of Christie's best. Not even close. It's the standard detective story set-up: a murder, a finite set of would-be-murderers, no one has a motive/everyone has equal motive. The twist here is that a man has been convicted, and has died in prison before his alibi turns up.

As far as mysteries go, it's a fairly decent book. But several other things bugged me:
1. Arthur Calgary, the hero. This is the alibi, the scientist who turns up two years too late to provide evidence that the convict...more
Classism time in classism town. More precisely, "adoption is unnatural, adoptive children and parents never truly and properly bond the way biological children and parents do, and all good women desperately long to have their own babies" time in [ibid.:] town. Also a lovely running theme about how the one daughter who's half-black and half-white, to whom everyone refers as "half-caste," is all inscrutable and cat-like as has no sense of time because she's half-black. With Aggie, it's all nature,...more
From BBC Radio 4:
Doctor Calgary comes to visit the Argyle family with good news, or so he thinks. He tells the family he is there to clear the name of Jacko, who was convicted of the murder of his mother. But his news is not greeted with the enthusiasm he expects.

directed by Mary Peate.

Along with Crooked House, Ordeal by Innocence was Agatha Christie's favourite of her own works. It is easy to see why. Eschewing the traditional detective format, it takes an original idea - how the innocent suffe
A perfectly good Agatha Christie mystery with the usual situation. The murderer had to be someone within a small group who all suspect each other. However the 1950s pop psychology/nature vs. nurture aspect of the plot irritated me. Why do I like Ms. Christie's 1930s classism but find her 1950s classism distasteful? Perhaps the 1930s seem a bit like fairy tale times while I remember 1958.

I must give her credit for the way she tied up loose ends with several new romances--it is nice to get some b...more
Kat Hagedorn

This is what happens when you set your Kindle to "wireless on" and you go on a road trip. Sigh. (If your Kindle has a leaky wireless connection, you will run out of battery by the time you get to your destination. If you are stupid enough not to bring your plug with you just in case or even a real paper book, for heaven's sake, you are hosed.)

The cottage had many mothbally, ancient choices. I have read so many Christie novels in the past that their plots all run togethe...more
Mar 23, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Royal Sappers
So dull.
Vicky (Books, Biscuits, and Tea)
According to the courts, Jacko Argyle bludgeoned his mother to death with a poker. The sentence was life imprisonment.

But when Dr Arthur Calgary arrives with the proof that confirms Jacko's innocence, it is too late - Jacko died behind bars following a bout of pneumonia. Worse still, the doctor's revelations re-open old wounds in the family, increasing the likelihood that the real murderer could strike again.....

Reading these few lines was enough for me to know that it's going to be a great read...more
I love the fact that I've read 3 Agatha Christie books in a row and each of them had a completely different tone from the other. There is a feeling of dissatisfaction, oppression, and suspicion among the characters which is what leads the tone to feel darker (vs. darker books because of suspense or psychological thriller). There is a large, but not too large, cast of characters, and although most of them are in a family together, since they were all adopted as children (not infants), they have t...more
Se i romanzi con protagonista il Belga Hercule Poirot sono, a conti fatti, una garanzia quasi totale di qualità o, comunque, di un testo avvincente (non parlo di Miss Marple, non avendola ancora mai letta), devo dire che i pochi romanzi della Christie popolati da personaggi diversi finiscono sempre per rappresentare, almeno per me, una piacevolissima sorpresa.
Libera da un certo tipo di schema che, con personaggi ricorrenti, spesso e volentieri diventa obbligato, l’autrice si lancia in scelte più...more
Pankaj Goyal
While Agatha Christie is no more with us, her novels still rule the world of murder mysteries. Her novels have been reprinted so many times and most probably will keep entertaining the readers in future too. I started reading Christie a long time back and always enjoyed reading her works (except some which disappointed me). I still reread many of her novels with perfect enjoyment.

This novel has the usual situation as one generally witness in Christie’s mysteries. The murderer is someone within...more
Onellyantie Chuah
I would say the first 20 chapters bored me as they almost made me give up reading this book. But, I'm glad I didn't because the last 4 chapters are simply BRILLIANT! The ending was very well concluded, everything tied to each other, though I have no idea how the main character, Dr Calgary could arrive to that conclusion. He didn't do very much talking, instead, he was the one who got talked to! But somehow, he got the answers to everything and made a beautiful ending for the whole tragedy and fo...more
I couldn't find the latest edition that was republished by Gramedia so the old one has to suffice (actually the latest cover was so good i bought it despite having read it before).

Anyhoo, good old 'who done it' mystery from Agatha Christie. Everytime i read books by AC (I re-read almost every one of them for several times) it transport me back to the day when i was a teenager and really love spending my whole day in the local library reading Agatha Christie. What a wonderful memory! I haven't s...more
Bit of a slow start, but understandable as a slow build up is required to fully appreciate the characters; once this was established, the story took more shape and I was keen to find out who did in fact murder Mrs Argyle. Christie is great at making you think deeply about "justice" and often I found myself sympathising with the Argyle family and thinking "why rake up the past - what's done is done, why did Dr Calgary have to come here and upset everyone", but on the flip side, I found myself kee...more
This one dragged through the first 20 chapters or so and then rushed to the finish in the last four. I gave it three stars simply because, as a fan, I couldn't give it anything less than that. Christie at her worst is better than most writers at their best, so she definitely deserves that. I can't say, however, that I enjoyed this one as much as some of her other titles. She herself listed this one as one of her personal favorites, but I just can't agree with her. Maybe she had more fun writing...more
Nov 30, 2008 Phayvanh rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: no one
I got 100 pages in before I literally threw it across the floor! You want to care about the adoptive mother who was slain two years ago with a fire poker through the gullet. But nothing is rendered with feeling, and though the Argyle household is appropriately rendered as cold and heartless, our investigator, Mr. Calgary, has no other motive but to move the book along.

Leave it to rot on the library shelves with the other obscure lesser tomes.
I have always been a fan of Dame Agatha Christie's books and this one is a good example of her classic tales. It's a short book and an easy read, although the tension builds slowly. The ending, however, is quite climactic and though the killer may have been a bit of a surprise, the final lines were fairly predictable. Overall, I enjoy reading mysteries - they are my brain candy - and I am always in the mood for an Agatha Christie mystery.
In the category of "one-offs" this is one of my more favorite Christies. It's a one-off with Arthur Calgary as the main character. Oh sure, it's a bit unbelievable that the police and the family doctor just decide "oh what the hell, let's share details with the guy", but I'm willing to be flexible when the story itself is enjoyable, and this one was. The pleasure of a really good Christie story is in reading it twice - the first time leading up to the reveal and sharing in the surprise with ever...more
Matteo Pellegrini

Un terribile rimorso affligge il dottor Calgary. Per colpa sua un ragazzo di nome Jack Argyle è stato condannato per l'assassinio della propria madre ed è morto in prigione. Il dottor Calgary sa che Jack era innocente; all'ora del delitto, infatti, il giovane era con lui, ma lo studioso non aveva potuto testimoniare in sua difesa perché all'epoca delle indagini si trovava in Antartide con una spedizione scientifica.

Ritornato in patria e venuto a conoscenza del processo, il dottore si precipita

Hmmm... Well, I can't expect to like *every* book, I guess. It was a little disappointing, the off-kilter psychology - Christie appears to be down on adoption and a little on the negative side period - not what I'm accustomed to from her.
Really 3 1/2 stars is what I want to give this stand-alone Christie. Good premise with plenty of twists.
Poirot olmadığı halde muhteşemdi kitap son sayfaları nefessiz okudum resmen okuyun okutun :D
Lisa Rathbun
Probably not one of my top favorites, but still a good mystery. As usual, there was a house full of suspects and I tended to agree with them: if only Jacko WAS the guilty one. I didn't want any of the others to be the murderer, but one of them had to have done it.

Everyone kept wishing that the doctor had not given Jacko an alibi. They didn't want the truth, but the truth had to be faced, and in the end they were the better for it. It was also interesting how the adopted children resented their...more
Dr. Calgary is late. He is late by two whole years. But it really isn’t his fault; he didn’t know he was needed. And now, now that he knows, he is coming. Coming to relieve the Argyle family.

Two years ago, Mrs. Argyle was killed. Her son, Jacko, was arrested for the crime. He gave an alibi for the time of the murder – said he’d been picked up by a man in a car and driven as far as Drymouth. This claim was unsupported, so he was tried and convicted of murder. He later died in prison.

But now, Calg...more
Ordeal by Innocence opens with Dr. Calgary confronting an unpleasant task, namely, telling a family that their son/brother who died in prison was innocent. Instead of being received with joy, his news is met with horror, and eventually Dr. Calgary realizes the probelm-- if the brother was innocent, someone else must be guilty. And thus he is drawn into a weird family dynamic and a mystery.

I found it a bit odd, though, that it was clear that Dr. Calgary was meant to solve the crime, but that he i...more
Unless you are a true Christie fan, you will find nothing special about this book. For me, i almost always enjoy her stuff for what it is. This one is a book i had never read before, and it was ok, average. You got a murder from 2 years ago that appears to be solved, and to add to that the culprit has died while in jail. Everything seems to go back to normal until Arthur Calgary shows up from out of nowhere 2 years later stating he has an alibi that would prove the innocence of the alleged kille...more
When Arthur Calgary went to Sunny Point, he invoked past tragedy that desperately tried to forget by the whole households. What he thought to be an honest act of good Samaritan, turned out to be another trigger to further tragedy in Sunny Point. I can imagine Dr Arthur lost his memories, but I found it is too daunting to believe that he will parade around town for quite a while not remembering anything for quite sometime; then suddenly hey presto he woke up from his mind unconsciousness to remem...more
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Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880...more
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“He felt lost without his hatred–lost and afraid.
About Mickey Argyle”
“Ma non aveva mai tenuto conto della natura umana. Aveva sempre considerato le persone come casi da trattare e problemi da risolvere. Non aveva mai capito che ciascun essere umano era diverso, aveva le proprie idiosincrasie, avrebbe reagito diversamente. Già allora l'aveva ammonita a non aspettarsi troppo. Ma lei si era sempre aspettata troppo, anche se non voleva ammetterlo, e così era sempre rimasta delusa.” 0 likes
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