Appointment with Death - Agatha Christie

Oh dear. If the pedants who teach creative writing classes by rote ever needed support for their insistence on "Show, don't tell" as their unerring advice, then they need only make people read the first 20% of "Appointment With Death".

 

I've never been so bored by or so impatient with an Agatha Christie book.

 

We are, for reasons that are not yet clear to me, in an hotel in Jerusalem. We start with Poirot overhearing and dismissing a fragment of a conversation between an American man and a woman, saying, "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed". He then provides some light relief by remembering an amusing anecdote about Trollope, This was the only fun part of the read for me.

 

After that, we were treated to the full and terribly stilted and melodramatic conversation that followed the opening line that Poirot dismissed and we learn that murder is actually being contemplated.

 

Then Poirot disappears and we are presented with a truly bizarre and slightly scary spectacle and older, male French internationally recognised psychologist and a young, female, English, newly-qualified psychologist analysing an American family that they've barely met and confidently ascribing to them all kinds of pathological conditions with an assurance that is as dull and as difficult to believe as it sounds.

 

Only after the young British psychologist has invited a young woman, who she sees as vulnerable and immature, to her room at midnight and then tempted her with prospects of a degree of freedom that the poor young woman has never contemplated, do we come face to face with the monstrous bullying of the old matriarch that everyone is afraid of.

 

By that time I'd already given up. 

 

How can someone of Christie's experience have knocked out such a clumsy and boring start to a novel?

 

I'll pass on this one, send it back to audible and take my chances with "Murder On The Orient Express" instead.