Candiss's Reviews > Death Comes as the End

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie
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Aug 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: classics, mystery-crime-suspense, historical-fiction
Read from August 01 to 03, 2012

Agatha Christie's Death Comes as the End is a good old-fashioned whodunnit with many layers of characterization and psychological intrigue.

Unlike Christie's many other mysteries, such as her beloved Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple series, this one takes place in ancient Egypt. Although the story is technically about the murder of a concubine, it's actually more about the family drama among and the psychological landscape of the central family's members. A ka-priest (priest whose job it is to tend the family tomb of one or more individuals, and in return he inherits their estate) who has been widowed for many years falls for a concubine while traveling to another land, bringing her home with him. His family all have tangled webs of drama prior to the arrival of this newcomer - things dealing with inheritance, status, jockeying for position, as well as secret hatreds and jealousies and other personal issues - and the concubine is not a nice girl. She's young and beautiful, but she's manipulative, greedy, cruel, hateful of children, and deeply intelligent. She purposefully causes much strife, and eventually she is found dead. Fingers are pointed, mysteries are untangled, and all sorts of intrigue ensues. Then several other family members start turning up dead, one by one...

I loved the setting. I am very keen on ancient Egyptian history, and Christie, while definitely being inventive to support her fiction, did some good research for this story. It felt authentic and believable. I wish she had written more historical setting mysteries! I also enjoyed the focus on the psychological aspects of the family's interactions and the fact that there was no detective/sleuth in this. The mystery was sussed out by family members who themselves were suspects the entire time.

My only complaint: I thought the ending was a bit convenient and didn't fit perfectly with the rest of the story. The ultimate culprit seemed in the final few pages to be practically a different person than they were in the previous couple of hundred. I found it hard to believe they had done it. Christie did not make me believe their motivation. (This did not detract from the overall story, to be honest. I would take off a half-star, perhaps.)

If you like mysteries or historical fiction or psychological/family drama, you should give this a try. It's a brisk read that kept me turning pages, and Christie is so good at fleshing out her characters on many levels.
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Lucy I agree very much with your opinion of the ending!


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