Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Posted February 20, 2022 by elzaread in Book Review / 15 Comments

Death on the Nile by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #17
on November 1st, 1937
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 333
Format: eBook, Paperback
Source: My Bookshelf
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Agatha Christie's most daring travel mystery.

The tranquility of a lovely cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life.

Who's also on board? Christie's great detective Hercule Poirot. He recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Despite the exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

Some of my fondest childhood memories, is visiting my Granny and my aunt over Summer Holidays and to this day can recall exactly where their vast Agatha Christie Collection was on the shelf. I remember how frightful some of those paperback covers were (why on earth did they ever do that? Did people honestly appealed to those?). Too scared to try to read them, Agatha Christie remained a name on a well-known bookshelf until I was practically an adult.

Thankfully wisdom comes with age, or is it with adaptations? My very first introduction to Agatha Christie adaptations, was Death on the Nile. And no, not the latest masterpiece by Kenneth Branagh. The one that was released the year I was born.

Ever since then, I’ve been a devoted Agatha Christie addict. But what is it with this story, set on the murky waters of the Nile in a country rich with history of greed, love and revenge?

“There’s something about this country that makes me feel wicked. It brings to the surface all the things that are bofiing inside one. Everything’s so unfair, so unjust.”  – Rosalie Otterbourne

I remember the 1978 adaptation so well and this past Friday, we ventured to the movies for the first time in more than 2 years for the release of the latest adaptation of Dame Christie’s classic tale that our bound to become as synonymous to Egypt as the pyramids themselves.

Through all the adaptations, changes were made and all directors love to leave their own fingerprints, I don’t mind that at all. As long as the plot stays the same and those who have to die, do die and those who have to hang do, well…. You know the story. I thought Kenneth Branagh did this rather brilliantly and he left more than just a few new fingerprints, a shadow was also cast that might linger for some time to come and I do hope it’s not the last adaptation we will see from him.

Of course the first thing to do after watching the latest adaptation, is watch the itv adaptation as well.

And then to read the book. Good grief, I might have a Death on the Nile hangover here today. But all these different versions, got me thinking – who did it best and which one were my ultimate favorite? Let’s compare a few characters and plotlines and see if we can get the little grey cells to make a final verdict:

Characters

Hercule Poirot

Poirot’s described in writing as having an egg-shaped head, often tilted to one side, and eyes that shine green when he’s excited. He dresses very precisely, and takes the utmost pride in his appearance.

My favorite has to be David Suchet. He really fits the description perfectly and while reading the book, that is exactly how I picture him. But I do want to give Kenneth Branagh a lot of credit. He does bring a certain element to the little Belgium Detective that has never been seen before.

Linnet Ridgeway Doyle

I didn’t care for her much and neither did Poirot or Agatha Christie if you read carefully. I think Emily Blunt portrayed Linnet perfectly. Credit to the director of the 1994 adaptation – one could never miss those pearls that played such an important role in the book. I believe Kenneth Branagh should have stuck to the pearls…

Simon Doyle

I didn’t care for him either. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but ever so cunning. I think Simon MacCorkindale was a perfect – well, Simon.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan on going through all the characters, just two more that stood out for me.

Jacqueline De Bellefort

Hell has no fury… Jackie is one complex character and in the novel and all the adaptations, she is by far the strongest character and the key to the whole story. So who did it best? This is the most difficult choice of all and I can understand Poirot’s sympathy with Jackie and he so desperately tried to warn her.

“Do not open your heart to evil. Because if you do – evil will come. Yes, very surely evil will come. It will enter in and make its home within you and after a while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.”

All three actresses were brilliant and although Emma Griffiths perfectly captured the Latin elements of Jacqueline as described in the novel, Emma Mackey captured Jackie as a whole.

Salome Otterbourne

Every good novel, needs a moment of comic relief. If it can be a character, so much the better. Salome Otterbourne is actually a rather sad and pathetic character, but she does bring the perfect comic relief to this dark tale.

In the novel, the 1978 and the 2004 adaptation, I loved Salome Otterbourne. In the latest edition, she is a completely different character and I’m sorry to say, it didn’t work for me at all. So which character worked best for me? Well Angela Lansbury of course! The performance of a lifetime!

Setting

The story is set in on of the most alluring settings in the world. Agatha Christie visited Egypt more than once and described the location sufficiently. All the adaptations had beautiful cinematography, but the 2022 adaptation sure captured it best.

Plot

I am going to step on a few toes here, but some of the Agatha Christie adaptations, are in my personal opinion, better than the novels. I’ve enjoyed David Suchet’s Murder on the Orient Express for instance way more than the book. With Death on the Nile, it is not the case. Even with all the adaptations, the book is still best. But which of the adaptations came closest? And this is where I would have benefited from the advice of the little egg-head detective. I simply cannot make up my mind. All three made changes that still fit the basic storyline perfectly.

My final verdict will have to be to follow my example and make a weekend of it. Read the book and watch all three adaptations!

 

 

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15 responses to “Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

  1. I love those old covers. Surprise, right? There was a store that my mom took me too when I was young and they had a little book section and there were always Christie’s…

    Man, do I love that movie poster. I think I need to watch the 70’s version as well as the Emily Blunt one.

    Greg recently posted: Sunday Post #441
    • elzaread

      Hi Greg! the 1978 version is really very good and I will recommend it. I just don’t like the Poirot. But if you are not all that familiar with Poirot, it won’t really bother you I guess.

      The David Suchet one with Emily Blunt is the one I will recommend the most though!!

  2. I enjoyed this post! Death on the Nile is one of my favourite Christies (I say that about a lot of her books…). And I agree Suchet is the best and most accurate Poirot. Mia Farrow did a good job as Jackie as far as I remember. It’s a long time since I saw that version, though. Sry, if you receive this comment twice, I am having some internet issues.

    • elzaread

      Death on the Nile is one of my favorite Christies as well and not only for the sentimental value. It really is just such a good plot.

      Mia Farrow was good yes as Jackie yes, but Emma McKey really did a magnificent job. All of the adaptations are good in their own special way.

      No worries, I’ve received your comment only once and are very grateful that you stopped by!

    • elzaread

      Hi Kimberly I still have a large number of those paperback copies as I inherited my aunts book collections. And some still freak me out. No Agatha Christie was really scary scary to me – except for Endless Night perhaps…

      Glad you enjoyed our post, I had fun drafting it!

  3. We must have been on the same wavelength about this one. I listened to the audiobook and watched the older film adaptions and then we went and saw the latest. I agree that they each bring something different to ponder and enjoy. Good run down, Marelli!

    And, yes some of those old covers are really gruesome.

    • elzaread

      Hi Sophia! There are a couple of us who have spend some time on “the Nile” the last couple of days since release of the movie. I’ve spoken to someone on Instagram as well and a friend of mine in Dubai did the same thing. Amazing to think Dame Christie’s work is still so alive and active!

      Had fun with the rundown, glad you enjoyed it too!

  4. Death on the Nile is one of my favorite Poirot books but I’ve only seen the adaptation with Angela Lansbury. I remember enjoying it but it’s been so long that I don’t remember anything else about it. I enjoyed the most recent Murder on the Orient Express with Kenneth Branagh though Branagh will never really be Poirot in my eyes. David Suchet is by far my favorite Poirot. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie though.

    • elzaread

      Hi Katherine! I’ve enjoyed Branagh more in this one than in Murder on the Orient Express. I do believe he deserves credit for what he accomplishes with these two adaptations. People who has never even heard of Agatha Christie (yes, there are a few of those unfortunate souls around), are talking about the stories and want to know more.

      You must try to watch the adaptation of Death on the Nile with David Suchet. I think it’s my favorite… I’ve seen it a couple of times already.

      I hope you get to see the latest adaptation too! It really is worth the trip to the movies.

      Have a good week Katherine!

    • elzaread

      Hi Harvee! The cinematography really was amazing yes. I loved my Death on the Nile weekend that I had last weekend and I’ve watched all 3 versions and read the book. Best weekend ever!

  5. mae

    Great comparisons! I really like your choices, though I have only seen the David Suchet version. I can’t seem to find the 1978 version on any streaming platform, and haven’t gone to the theater for the new one.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • elzaread

      I actually have the DVD of the 1978 one and it really was so good. I can’t believe Angela Lansbury was in that one and she’s still going strong.