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Ordeal by Innocence

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  13,743 ratings  ·  1,073 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, 269 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Harper (first published November 3rd 1958)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) <spoiler>That's rather the point of their relationship. He did when they first got married but the crash put him too much in her power. She…more<spoiler>That's rather the point of their relationship. He did when they first got married but the crash put him too much in her power. She "mothers" him now and he doesn't like it but can't do anything, as it's her family that has the money that supports him. He's also rotten at business, as is said more than once. Probably if he'd remained healthy the marriage would have broken up over money or at least become embittered. Mrs Durrant is basically selfish; as long as everything goes her way, she's happy; but then she learned that from her mother. Phillip feels a certain affection for her, but he enjoys messing with people, which is why he kisses Hester--to see how H. will react; and then when his wife is a witness he's more tickled than upset. He doesn't kiss Hester to stop her killing herself; it would be much more effective to say, "Look girlie, I'm in a wheelchair and I haven't topped myself, have I?" but he'd rather play games.</spoiler>(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  13,743 ratings  ·  1,073 reviews

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Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Simona Bartolotta
“That was the trouble with people who had no legal sense of discretion. They insisted on saying things which were much better not said.”

Every time Christie makes her stories revolve around a big and extraordinarily dysfunctional family, I invariably find myself utterly spellbound. The same happened with Appointment With Death; but the mystery in the latter was certainly more satisfying, as I see it. I would have liked -and expected- a more imaginative solution, I think.

In brief, not one of
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Calgary came to the end of the nice new road with the nice new houses on either side of it, each with its eighth of an acre of garden; rock plants, chrysanthemums, roses, salvias, geraniums, each owner displaying his or her individual garden taste.

At the end of the road was a gate with SUNNY POINT in Gothic letters on it. He opened the gate, passed through, and went along a short drive. The house was there ahead of him, a well-built, characterless modern house, gabled and porched. It
Nandakishore Varma
This is one of those standalone mysteries written by Dame Agatha which features none of her favourite sleuths - and it's fantastic and insanely readable. Jacko Argyll, the black sheep of the Argyll family who has been convicted for the murder of his mother, dies in prison after protesting his innocence for two years: an alibi involving a hitched ride which he could not prove in court. However, it turns out that for once, Jacko had been telling the truth: Dr. Arthur Calgary who had given him a ...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
“How can I go on living here and suspecting everybody ?”

I usually avoid comparing movies to books as in comparing apples to oranges....but since I graced my teeth on this Christie story first through Prime's version of the haunting tale, I can't help but constantly compare when reading and reviewing. I knew when watching the three-part series that Christie would not have been racy enough to put in the themes of child abuse, abortion and molestation in her book, and I was right when reading this
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
‘All right. It’s your say so–and you’re sticking to it. Jacko didn’t kill her. Very well then–who did kill her? You haven’t thought about that one, have you? Think about it now. Think about it–and then you’ll begin to see what you’re doing to us all…’

I've been reading away on my Agatha Christie project for a while, and although the books tend to, with exceptions, follow a formula, there are other issues or themes that Christie discusses in the different books. This could be anything from
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
Vikas Singh
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
One of Christie’s must read thrillers. Written in her true who-dun-it fashion the plot has an interesting beginning. True a murder has been committed and innocent person is jailed where he later dies. The stage is set and there is usual bunch of suspects. It is not the police but an amateur sleuth who finally solves the case. Great read.
Shabbeer Hassan
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: whodunit, 2018
A classic Christie tale which explores the central theme - "If you love someone dearly, how far would you go to protect them". Instead of Poirot or Marple, we have a bespectacled geophysicist investigating a crime to which he was an alibi to the hanged murderer, in a family which is dysfunctional at its core and only a thin veneer of sanity covering it up. As you read, our protagonist peels those layers to reveal the true murderer and the hidden crime of many years ago.

My Rating - 3.5/5
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
Bruce Beckham
I think my watching of the BBC adaptation shortly before reading it hampered my judgement of this book. However, I still believe I would have rated it ‘disappointing’.

I had heard that the plot had been altered for the screen version – hmm, worth investigating – but I couldn’t get out of my head the paradox of the location (‘Sunny Point’ and ‘Drymouth’ – filmed in Scotland? Come on!) – nor the actors’ faces that were emblazoned on the cover of the new paperback edition I bought.

The ‘original’
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first three stars rating for an Agatha Christie book (and I can't believe it)
I liked this one, but it was kinda disappointing, the events were a bit dull, I could figure out half of what happened pretty easily, but the second half in the end was great.
”’It’s not the guilty who matter. It’s the innocent.’”

4.5 out of 5 stars

I’m beginning to think that I prefer Christie’s standalone titles over her more famous Poirot novels. While I’ve mildly enjoyed those, I adored And Then There Were None. And the completion of this novel confirms my suspicions, because this book was fantastic.

Dr. Arthur Calgery, having just come back from a years long expedition to Antarctica, finds himself in a dire situation. Before he left, he offered a lift to a
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, mystery
I am not sure how to rate this. On one hand, it had all the elements I love in a murder mystery - murder within the family, a large number of suspects, family drama, and some humour. But Ordeal by Innocence also bashes you on the head with Christie's private views about adoption and heredity, which are basically utter nonsense. Every chapter contained a polemic, expressed by different people, against adoption and how a mother can never be a mother unless she gives birth. It's annoying to read, ...more
Laurel Young
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this one a bit difficult to get into. Though I think that might have more to do with me and the headspace I am in right now than the book itself.

The plot was good, a typical whodunnit, but the characters were a bit... lacking, I think.
Aug 08, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kate (GirlReading)
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
An entertaining mystery and one in which I didn’t entirely predict ‘whodunit’ but also didn’t care all too much about who did it either. The characters were okay but all felt very similar and somewhat flat. However, it was an entertaining read, just not as gritty or addictive as I was hoping it would be, having read and loved another of Agatha Christie’s titles a few months previous to this.

TW: discussion of suicide, ableism, sexism
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, I'm giving it two stars due to an enormous plot hole. I mean it's so big you can fit a submarine in it, or maybe a battleship, a couple of cruisers, a destroyer. (I so want to play classic Battleship lately.) Seriously, I'll put it in the spoiler tags. Meanwhile...

I went on a Christie campaign in the 80's and read everything my local library had. (There was no inter-library system at the time.) I thought I'd done good, read almost every Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and those
Bill Lynas
In many Agatha Christie stories there is a crime & a large number of suspects. Here she shakes things up a little by having the murderer already sentenced & in prison. He then dies of pneumonia & (if that wasn't enough) someone comes along to prove he was actually innocent.
Unfortunately far too much of the novel is taken up with characters discussing who the real murderer might be & this soon becomes so repetitive that I no longer cared who committed the crime.
I think the story
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

I liked this better than the miniseries.

The miniseries isn't bad, keep that in mind. It's actually very good and I really liked watching it. However, it's very melodramatic and packed full of *~controversial~* stuff that misdirects and kind of links in with current events, such as the #MeToo movement. And, when I decided to read the book after watching it, it really came across as campy.

Mr. and Mrs. Argyle get married and Mrs. Argyle wants to have a family. However, they couldn't get
This is one of the last Christie's I'll be reviewing for the Cool Down With AC challenge this summer. I fell a little behind schedule when I needed a break from the Christie a week schedule I was on. This is one of the stand alone novels and was one Agatha Christie's top ten personal favorites making a must read.

In this novel we have Dr. Arthur Calgary, who after having suffered a concussion, suddenly remembers an important piece of information in a murder case. Unfortunately by the time he
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Royal Sappers
So dull.
Karen ⊰✿
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wheelathon4
This has been reported to be one of Agatha Christie's personal favourites, so I was intrigued to read it to see how it differs from her other (vast collection! of) writing.

A Doctor recovering from amnesia discovers that he was the lone alibi for someone convicted of murdering his mother. The man convicted died in prison, but the good Doctor feels that he needs to let the family know that he couldn't have been guilty. What he fails to realise is that if Jacko wasn't guilty, then one of them must
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, top-author
3.5 stars
A classic murder mystery. This is a standalone mystery and I would have preferred a bit of Hercule or Miss Marple but the characters in this are still very strong and made for a good story.
Settle in and enjoy!
Nancy Oakes
like a 3.7 rounded up.

plot, no spoilers here:

While I see that a lot of readers don't agree with me, I found Ordeal by Innocence to be quite a good read. I get that for many people the draw in a Christie novel is Poirot getting his little grey cells all stirred up or waxing his moustaches, or Miss Marple innocently knitting away while taking stock and careful observation of everything and everyone while the cops tend to flounder, but really, the
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: golden-age
Two years ago Jack Argyle was convicted of the murder of his adoptive mother, Rachel Argyle, despite protesting his innocence, and subsequently died in prison. Now a stranger arrives to tell the Argyles he can prove Jack was innocent and is surprised to find that they are distressed by this news rather than overjoyed. But if Jack is innocent, someone else in the house must have been guilty of the murder....

Unusually for Christie this is light on murders and more focused on the psychological (and
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-christie
After watching a recent tv adaptation a few months ago with a bizarre ending I decided to read the book. WTF the tv adaptation was awful. After reading the book where there is a completely different murderer which made sense. Dr. Calgary also is completely different as a character and in my view better.

Mary and Philip work better in the book as do the other characters Mickey, Tina, Hester and the wicked Jacko. The best thing about the tv adaptation was the house and background location. In
No more Agatha Christie written after 1955 for me. It gets way too weird. Also what did she have against adoption? Because this book made it seem like adopting children is up there with homicide and robbing banks as despicable behavior.
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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 Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in
“How can I go on living here and suspecting everybody ?” 22 likes
“He felt lost without his hatred–lost and afraid.
About Mickey Argyle”
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