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Murder in Mesopotamia
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot Buddy Reads 16: Murder in Mesopotamia

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Jessica | 351 comments This month we are off to an archaeological dig in Iraq!

The Daily Mirror (9 July 1936) wrote: "Don't start reading this if you've got something to do or want a book just for a quarter of an hour or so. Because you simply won't put it down til you've reached the last sentence."

So... we are forewarned!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1815 comments Another change to the usual, where instead of Hastings doing the narration , it is a Nurse Leatheran, who had been brought in the look after the victim. Obviously she failed, as the murder was committed in a closed room. As luck would have it, (or Christie anyway) Hercule Poirot happened to be in the vicinity and did his magic. The nurse's story I found quite humourous at times in her opinion of Poirot and the plot did keep me guessing.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Jessica wrote: "This month we are off to an archaeological dig in Iraq!

The Daily Mirror (9 July 1936) wrote: "Don't start reading this if you've got something to do or want a book just for a quarter of an hour ..."


That is how I felt about it - very enjoyable read. Reading the Marsh books with the group, along with the other buddy reads at the same time as these Christie rereads have convinced me, I’m more of a Christie/traditional police procedural/traditional private detective murder mystery fan.

I always love the Poirot reads, but usually only really get into the other reads once the murder happens and the police or private detective (or hero/heroine) start detecting!

I loved the exotic setting, archeology background, and characters- rife with plenty of drama and conflict under the surface. Poirot was brilliant as always, and the method and motive fiendishly clever! I liked Nurse Leatheran very much, she made a satisfying and likable Hastings substitute.


Emma | 53 comments I loved the archaeological details in this one (rather like those in the much later 'They Came To Baghdad'), and the way that Amy Leatheran's narrative both revealed and obscured. Christie uses her character really well, I think, to indicate how everyone's views of the situation are different and coloured by their own opinions of people.

Does anyone know if 'Linda Condon' which Poirot refers to, and which Mrs Leidner was reading, is a real book?


Roman Clodia | 722 comments I'm enjoying this but dislike Nurse Leatheran's judgemental attitudes and her unpleasant responses to the Iraqi workmen (who she calls 'scarecrows'), Mrs Mercado (who she deems 'common'), and her general dislike of Iraq as dirty and just generally beneath her notice. She even mentions her 'disgust' with Poirot's 'foreignness'...

It's an interesting change for Christie from Hasting's narratives: where he's always jumping to the most romantic solution, she's down to earth and prosaic. But I just can't warm to her whole British imperialist attitude. Is anyone else uncomfortable with her?


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1815 comments I wasn't uncomfortable with her. I thought her contrast to Hastings was rather well done. Seemed to me , if you are going to change something, why not go the whole way.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "I'm enjoying this but dislike Nurse Leatheran's judgemental attitudes and her unpleasant responses to the Iraqi workmen (who she calls 'scarecrows'), Mrs Mercado (who she deems 'common'), and her g..."

I’ve read several books from this period, and honestly, it seems typical to the time and place.


Roman Clodia | 722 comments Well, except the book makes the point that the same group of men who Leatheran describes as 'scarecrows' are noted as being 'a fine group of fellows' (or something similar) by Dr Leidner... so it seems to pointedly be her attitude and a point of characterisation, not necessarily Christie's or the book's.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "Well, except the book makes the point that the same group of men who Leatheran describes as 'scarecrows' are noted as being 'a fine group of fellows' (or something similar) by Dr Leidner... so it s..."
True - and she comments about the country being dirty, but at the end reminiscences about the sights and sounds - so who knows, maybe her adventure there, upon hindsight, improved her attitude!


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Annabel Frazer | 301 comments This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case not everyone has finished it.

Christie wrote this one when she knew archaeological digs very well from her life with Max Mallowan. But I always like to reflect on the fact that one of her very early novels, The Man In The Brown Suit, which she wrote long before she met Mallowan, also shows a great interest in archaeology. It's nice that she ended up able to spend quite a lot of her life in this world, which clearly interested her a lot.


message 11: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 01, 2019 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case not everyone has finished it.

Chris..."


Oh, I haven’t read that one, I pretty much stuck to Poirot and Marple, I’ll have to see if I can find it.

I did pick up a very old copy of Come, Tell Me How You Live Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie Mallowan at a used book sale a few years ago, has anyone read it?


Sandy | 2502 comments Mod
Susan in NC wrote: "Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case not everyone has fin..."

I read it 5 - 6 years ago and remember enjoying Christie's view of life on a dig in the Middle East. I didn't write a review at the time. It might make a good pairing with this month's read, comparing the nurse's reaction to Christie's.



Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Sandy wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case ..."

Thanks- that’s what I was thinking!


Adrian | 135 comments You've all finished already, I started a day early and I'm still only on page 40. How ?!?!


message 15: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 01, 2019 12:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Adrian wrote: "You've all finished already, I started a day early and I'm still only on page 40. How ?!?!"

I started at a doctor appointment, got hooked, then listened to the audiobook- I should have been reading other books for other groups, but I love Christie and this one really hit my reading spot, so I finished it first! I read it last week - it was just much more appealing to me than the books my other groups were reading!


Adrian | 135 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Adrian wrote: "You've all finished already, I started a day early and I'm still only on page 40. How ?!?!"

I started at a doctor appointment, got hooked, then listened to the audiobook- I should h..."


I am enjoying it myself as well Susan, but I doubt if I'll finish it as quick as you.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Adrian wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Adrian wrote: "You've all finished already, I started a day early and I'm still only on page 40. How ?!?!"

I started at a doctor appointment, got hooked, then listened to the a..."


In my other groups, it seems we either all read our own books for the challenge at our own pace and review for the group, or we all read the same book starting on the same day. I’ve noticed with this group, it seems like the day stated as the start date seems to be the day the threads are posted, and members post that they’ve already read the book, and give their impressions. I took that to mean this group preferred to have the book finished and ready to review on the start date. My mistake if that’s wrong - I prefer to read at my own pace and comment on the book as it progresses, as another of my GR groups does. Either way, I’ve gotten a lot of great book recommendations - I just need to slow down and enjoy the books!


Jessica | 351 comments Oh, don't worry at all Susan! I think everyone is free to read at their own pace. We have a whole month per book, there's no rush. Also, with people finishing at different times the discussions keep being visited throughout and there always new replies.

I am very happy that so many are enthusiastically reading these books, personally I start reading after I open the threads only. Almost all Poirot's are a first read for me too, so I'm fresh into every discussion (i.e. Not an early responder usually).

I hope the rest agrees with the freedom. If not, let me know too!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Jessica wrote: "Oh, don't worry at all Susan! I think everyone is free to read at their own pace. We have a whole month per book, there's no rush. Also, with people finishing at different times the discussions kee..."

Thank you! I read many Poirot and Marple books decades ago for the first time, but I just love them - honestly prefer them to other books this group, and other groups read. I usually read them first for sheer enjoyment- and you all are very sharp and insightful readers about motives and methods and such - I just read along and enjoy! I love the comments, makes me think more about the details (I still usually don’t know whodunnit, though!)


Adrian | 135 comments I must admit I tend to actually try and start the book on the start date, but as Jessica says it’s just great so many people are joining in.

I too read them (Marples and Poirots) many years ago and am enjoying my reunion courtesy of this group and Jessica’s organisation of this challenge.


message 21: by Victoria (new)

Victoria | 28 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case not everyone has fin..."


I liked the idea of this one, but I just cannot believe that it could ever happen. I can't see how anyone wouldn't know.

Come, Tell Me How you Lived - just finished it last week. Loved it, it had such a great feel for the period.


message 22: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1815 comments If I were to read all the group reads and the the buddy reads on the start date I would have too many books on the go at the same time. I prefer to read before the start so I can read at my leisure and not rush the books.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Victoria wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case ..."

Yay, good to know! I’m going to dig it out and finally read it...

As to the end of this one, I didn’t remember the murder method at all, or the identity of the murderer, but had an inkling once Nurse Leatheran found Miss Johnson on the roof. And, of course, when Miss Johnson is dying and manages to say ‘the window’ - but I couldn’t really visualize it as Poirot described it. Seemed awfully risky, either that it wouldn’t work or someone would see it being done.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Jill wrote: "If I were to read all the group reads and the the buddy reads on the start date I would have too many books on the go at the same time. I prefer to read before the start so I can read at my leisure..."

That’s what I need to do, spread out the books and enjoy them!


message 25: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8321 comments Mod
Annabel wrote: "This is one of those few Agatha Christies where I simply cannot swallow the solution at all. It seems to carry inventiveness too far. I will say no more in case not everyone has finished it. ..."

There is a spoiler thread if you want to say more, Annabel :)

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Susan | 9317 comments Mod
Having struggled through, and hated, Catch-22, I am happy to say that I am now going to listen to Murder in Mesopotamia. I don't remember this one, so I am looking forward to it.


Susan | 9317 comments Mod
Anna Massey is reading this Poirot. I know she was a great actress, I've even seen her in the theatre, but her voice is very strident. I am missing Hugh Fraser...


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Susan wrote: "Anna Massey is reading this Poirot. I know she was a great actress, I've even seen her in the theatre, but her voice is very strident. I am missing Hugh Fraser..."

Me, too - she was good, but Hastings is my favorite Poirot narrator!


Susan | 9317 comments Mod
Definitely. I think Hugh Fraser does the Poirot books on Audible better than David Suchet! He is so versatile.


Jessica | 351 comments 90 pages in, enjoying the scenery tremendously and suddenly realizing someone is missing... Oh oh surely Poirot is due to arrive on the scene soon... This can't bode well ;-)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2326 comments Jessica wrote: "90 pages in, enjoying the scenery tremendously and suddenly realizing someone is missing... Oh oh surely Poirot is due to arrive on the scene soon... This can't bode well ;-)"

Hang in there!


Adrian | 135 comments Jessica wrote: "90 pages in, enjoying the scenery tremendously and suddenly realizing someone is missing... Oh oh surely Poirot is due to arrive on the scene soon... This can't bode well ;-)"

Oh don't worry it gets better and then ...........


Tara  | 741 comments Susan wrote: "Definitely. I think Hugh Fraser does the Poirot books on Audible better than David Suchet! He is so versatile."

Hugh Fraser is most definitely my favorite Poirot narrator as well. I just finished another Christie book, The Seven Dials Mystery which was narrated by Emilia Fox, and it just didn't have the same magic.


Jessica | 351 comments Adrian wrote: "Jessica wrote: "90 pages in, enjoying the scenery tremendously and suddenly realizing someone is missing... Oh oh surely Poirot is due to arrive on the scene soon... This can't bode well ;-)"

Oh d..."


I meant it couldn't bode well for the still alive members of the digging party (that cannot be a spoiler, it's an Agatha Christie book).

I finished the book now and I enjoyed it but not so much as I expected I would. I used to love any books set in the Middle East during these times and the romantic idea of archaeological digs with tents and sand storms and marvellous finds. I think my growing awareness of the state of politics in that region is dampening that feeling of excitement.

How is that for you?


Tara  | 741 comments Emma wrote: "I loved the archaeological details in this one (rather like those in the much later 'They Came To Baghdad'), and the way that Amy Leatheran's narrative both revealed and obscured. Christie uses her..."

I recall in a previous book (not sure if it was Marsh or Christie), there was reference to a detective story one of the characters was reading, and apparently that was made up. Linda Condon appears to be real though, and is available for free on Kindle (in the US). Not much detail is provided on the Goodreads page, but according to the editorial review on Amazon: "A wealthy woman never learns to have, let alone show, any emotions -- or, as the narrator puts it, to "lose herself". Although she does no one any harm, in the course of the novel Linda is likened to Siberia, described by her husband as a "woman of alabaster", and calls herself " the most sterile woman alive."


message 36: by Emma (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emma | 53 comments Tara wrote: "I recall in a previous book (not sure if it was Marsh or Christie), there was reference to a detective story one of the characters was reading, and apparently that was made up. Linda Condon appears to be real though, and is available for free on Kindle (in the US)..."
Interesting, so maybe contemporary readers would have been aware of the reference.

Isn't it in 'The Clocks' where Poirot refers to a lot of different crime fiction authors both real and invented - Louisa O'Malley, for example.


message 37: by Emma (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emma | 53 comments Annabel wrote: "Christie wrote this one when she knew archaeological digs very well from her life with Max Mallowan..."

Yes, and isn't Louise Leidner meant to be a sort of portrait (or at least, 'inspired by') Katherine Woolley?


Jessica | 351 comments Emma wrote: "Annabel wrote: "Christie wrote this one when she knew archaeological digs very well from her life with Max Mallowan..."

Yes, and isn't Louise Leidner meant to be a sort of portrait (or at least, '..."


That's interesting indeed! I did the book references to be real works.


Adrian | 135 comments Jessica wrote: "I used to love any books set in the Middle East during these times and the romantic idea of archaeological digs with tents and sand storms and marvellous finds. I think my growing awareness of the state of politics in that region is dampening that feeling of excitement. ..."

I agree completely with that Jessica, archaeological digs always have magical place in my eyes.


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