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Murder in Mesopotamia (Hercule Poirot, #14)
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot Buddy Reads 16 SPOILER THREAD: Murder in Mesopotamia

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Jessica | 367 comments For those of you who have already finished this one: go ahead and enjoy the spoilers here.
The rest of us will join you soon!

Sandy | 2896 comments Mod
I was loving the book until the ending which I just didn't believe.

Roman Clodia | 866 comments I thought it was interesting that Christie seemed to be aware of the improbability and so had Nurse Leatheran and Louise Leidner discuss the recognition question at around p.100 when Louise first tells her about her past.

I was bothered by no-one having thought about the roof when so much of Middle Eastern life seems to take place on that flat roof which is a living space. Poirot not at his sharpest here...

Sandy | 2896 comments Mod
There was also a Miss Marple where an actress didn't recognize her early ex-husband. As you said RC, at least this time Christie tried hard to convince me its possible.

Frances (francesab) | 396 comments I have to agree that while I found the denouement quite gripping (and of course, hadn't guessed it) I think having the husband as the ex-husband was even more of a stretch than the usual Christie plotting. It would have been a great mystery even without the first husband as second husband bit, but I suppose that additional angle adds to the intrigue (and supplies that fiendishly ingenious plot twist for which Christie is famous).

message 6: by Louise (last edited Apr 10, 2019 12:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Louise Culmer | 114 comments I find the business of the husband turning out to have been her former husband unbelievable, it also seems an unnecessary complication. Jealousy would be motive enough I think without the husband i n disguise thing, which I really can't swallow at all. I like Nurse Leatheran though, she is a great character.

Tara  | 822 comments Unless Mrs. Leidner was so self absorbed that she barely paid attention to either husband, who would believe that after 2 years of marriage, she wouldn't have picked up on similarities between them? Certainly once she started receiving the anonymous letters, you would assume that her guard would have been up. After reading enough of these stories, you also learn that any time someone is completely ruled out as a suspect, it means they are probably the guilty one.

Jessica | 367 comments Tara wrote: "Unless Mrs. Leidner was so self absorbed that she barely paid attention to either husband, who would believe that after 2 years of marriage, she wouldn't have picked up on similarities between them..."

I do feel that Poirot was trying to make a case that Mrs. Leidner indeed could have been so self-absorbed, but I also don't buy it.

I also don't really understand why at some point Mr, Leidner didn't own up to being the same person. Certainly, it must have been some kind of "true" love as she only ever allowed herself to marry twice and it turns out to have been to the same man!

The drug use was interesting and I did like Poirot's ruse there haha surely there must have been a more delicate way to get a man working in the burning sun to roll up his sleeves...

Tara  | 822 comments Jessica wrote: "Tara wrote: "Unless Mrs. Leidner was so self absorbed that she barely paid attention to either husband, who would believe that after 2 years of marriage, she wouldn't have picked up on similarities..."

In the Suchet TV version, she was only married to the husband for a few days before they were separated (and it was described as 'one of those war-time marriages', which implies they didn't know each other well beforehand). That makes the lack of recognition more plausible, even if it still does not hold water. I would have found this pill easier to swallow if he had been disfigured in the train wreck, and therefore his appearance was significantly altered by something other than just the passage of time.
It also seems unlikely that she could be so self-absorbed if she is supposed to be a master manipulator, using her wiles and charms on everyone. I got the impression that she was rather insightful about each person's weaknesses, which is what made her jabs that much more effective.
With regard to Mr. Mercado, he likely would have gone to great pains to conceal evidence of his drug use. Although if that were the case, it would have made more sense for him to inject the needle elsewhere in a less visible place, so that he could at least wear short-sleeve shirts in 100 degree weather.

Adrian | 135 comments Jessica wrote: "I do feel that Poirot was trying to make a case that Mrs. Leidner indeed could have been so self-absorbed, but I also don't buy it...."

Tara wrote: "Unless Mrs. Leidner was so self absorbed that she barely paid attention to either husband, who would believe that after 2 years of marriage, she wouldn't have picked up on similarities between them..."

My reaction echos both yours, my reaction was what ?? Sorry for me it just didn't ring true , up till then it had the usual Christie/Poirot excellence. My review is

Jessica | 367 comments Over on the other thread, the books that Poirot lists as explanatory for Mrs Leidner's personality were mentioned.
- Linda Condon
- Crewe Train
- Back to Methuselah

As these books don't ring any bells for me, I just accepted Poirot's explanations. (Linda Crondon --> She must have innate desires to be an independent woman and very much in love with herself. Crewe train --> Further proof of her being a narcissist. Back to Methuselah --> she favors intellect over emotion).

It is interesting to think that Agatha's contemporaries probably would know these books and perhaps be more swayed by the argument Poirot's making.

Anyone here read any of these books?

Louise Culmer | 114 comments I have read Crewe Train, it's by Rose Macaulay, an author whose books I enjoy very much, though this isn't one of my favourites. It is about a young woman who has been brought up abroad by her father, a retired clergyman. When he dies she goes to live with relatives in London and finds herself out of her depth in London soiciety. I have not read Back to Methuselah, but I know of it. is a collection of plays by George Bernard Shaw, set in different time periods, from the Garden of Eden to .D.31,920.

Tania | 438 comments I read this the other night. I enjoyed the unsettled feel of it and found it very compelling.
Thanks for the links to the books, I was wondering about those. I haven't read any of them yet, but would like to.

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 84 comments Murder in Mesopotamia Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an intensive care nurse, myself, with some pretty graphic and gory tales I could tell (if I chose), I generally avoid reading anything smacking of horror or gore in my literature choices. This book has for me one of the most horrific murder methods ever devised by Christie and the full horror of it as the nurse Amy Leatheran deals with it during and afterwards always hits close to the bone for me when I read this mystery. That being said, although the Iraqi setting is lacking in the authentic cultural feel I would have liked to experience more, I think it is a very interesting reflection of the life Christie herself lived while on dig location with her archeological husband, Max Mallowan, at different times of her life. As such, the authenticity of the smaller, cultural community of the experts and residents who manage the dig is fascinating to me, as a snapshot of what that life would have been like.

What I love best about this book is not the ingenious plot of the impossible seeming murder, or the actual characters of either the murderer or the victim, or even the main suspects, all who leave me rather cold. It is the narrative device used by Christie, which I find amusing and charming. The book commences with an amusing 'Foreword' by 'Giles Reilly, M.D.', in which we find that the story has been written down for posterity at his request, by Miss Amy Leatheran. He states his reasons:

"She is obviously the person to do it. She had a professional character of the highest, she is not biased by having any previous connection with the University of Pittstown Expedition to Iraq and she was an observant and intellectual eye-witness."

From chapter two, the story is narrated in Nurse Leatheran's own voice, which is charmingly natural and relaxed, with more than a little personal bias given when describing the other characters and settings. As such, we see the people and settings only as Amy Leatheran experiences them herself. Amusingly she asserts when describing picturesque Iraqui sights that "I've never been able to see that picturesqueness excuses dirt." She describes Dr Leidner, archeologist in charge of the expedition, as 'middle-aged with a rather nervous, hesitating manner, vague and devoted to his wife'. Mr Bill Coleman, assistant to the expedition, had 'a round pink face' and reminded her of 'someone out of a P.G. Wodehouse book'. Sheila Reilly, the doctor's daughter, reminded her of 'a probationer I had like her under me once -a girl who worked well , I'll admit, but whose manner always riled me'. She had a 'cool, sarcastic way of talking'.

Mrs Louise Leidner, her patient, was very thin and fragile-looking' with 'an air of intense weariness and was at the same time very much alive'. Father Lavigny, translation expert, was 'a bit alarming', a 'tall man with a great black beard and pince nez.' Mr Reiter, expedition photographer, was a 'stout fair man with glasses' who looked 'just a little like a pig'. Mrs Mercado was 'dark and slinky-looking' with 'no manners at all'. Her husbans, assistant archeologist, was a 'tall thin, melancholy man with a sallow complexion.' Mr Carey, partner to Dr Leidner, was 'one of the handsomest men I'd seen for a long time' who also 'looks like a death's head'. Finally, Miss Johnson, general expedition dogsbody and jack of all trades 'reminded her of a matron I'd had in my probationer days whom we had all admired and worked hard for'.

We discover, alongside Amy Leatheran, that not all is as it appears to be, or is as was first presented to her. There is a curious tension in the air, an atmosphere of caution and meticulous politeness and no-one at the expedition house seems to feel at ease. Finally her patient confides in her a convoluted personal history of fear, mystery and intrigue from which past circumstances, she is frightened for her life. Her worries and fears seem wholly justified when she is found dead, murdered, a few days later. Fortunately for the group, unfortunately for the culprit, there is a certain Hercule Poirot who is currently staying in Baghdad, whose reputation for solving crimes involving murder, proceeds him. With Nurse Leatheran at his side to play 'Watson' to his 'Holmes', Poirot sets about solving the truly dastardly crime.

View all my reviews

message 15: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments Hi Jemima, your comment on the murder method interests me. I'm currently halfway through a book about Agatha Christie's use of poisons and I've found myself wondering if that one will be mentioned. It's pretty grim.

Overall, this book is spoiled for me by the completely implausible solution, but like you, I love the narrative voice. Christie is so good at creating appealing narrators and she makes it look easy, which it isn't.

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 84 comments Yes truly horrific. The poor nurse. Some of the poison suicide cases I nursed were so dreadful depending on what was used. Often through ignorance of the effects and consequences- more a cry for help. Strangely enough most of the really well known ‘poisons’ have highly effective antidotes and are treatable if caught in time. It’s the ones using household or farming available items of overdoses of otherwise perfectly innocuous everyday available in supermarket medicines that have truly horrific consequences.

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 84 comments What is the book you are reading? I would be interested in it I think

Tania | 438 comments I completely agree about that horrific murder. I remember watching it in the David Suchet Poirot series. It always made me think about the fact that these episodes are often shown on daytime TV, and considered easy watching, and yet sometimes, they can be pretty gruesome.

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