F.R.'s Reviews > Murder in Mesopotamia

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
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Feb 12, 2016

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My first exposure to Hercule Poirot was those films Peter Ustinov made in the seventies and eighties. And I think the aspect which stayed with me the most was the cosmopolitan glamour of it all. Look! – there’s Bette Davis, David Niven and Mia Farrow all sailing down the Nile!

Reading this book though – set in Iraq – I find that Christie was perfectly capable of making Poirot as provincial as Miss Marple. In the introduction she thanks her “many archaeological friends in Iraq and Syria”, but the narrator comments at one point that “there isn’t going to be any local colour in this story”. That latter statement proves to be correct. There are no serious descriptions of Iraq, there are no Iraqi characters (just nondescript Arabs as servants) and all of the suspects are most definitely Western. It’s quite possible she could have set the whole thing on an archaeological dig just outside Taunton. The lead policeman says at one point that his men are good at investigating Arab blood crimes, but this murder is out of their class. Does this mean that the English and Americans have crime with a higher IQ than anyone else?

The normal flaws of Christie are all present: no sense of character; terrible dialogue; flat prose; dénouement which is absolutely ludicrous. And yet you keep turning and turning those pages.
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