#ReadChristie2023: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (1937)

Death on the Nile is a detective novel by Agatha Christie, first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on October 1, 1937, with the US edition following on November 12 of the same year, published by Dodd, Mead, and Company.

Original Death on the Nile cover, 1937.

In 1944: The novel was included in a collection of short stories titled The Under Dog and Other Stories in the US, published by Dodd, Mead, and Company. The novel was adapted into a film of the same name, directed by John Guillermin and starring Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, and Bette Davis. You can read my review of the film here. A new edition of the book was published in the UK by HarperCollins on September 3, 2007, to coincide with the release of a new film adaptation. The novel was adapted into a new film adaptation of the same name, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Branagh himself as Hercule Poirot, Gal Gadot, and Armie Hammer. It was released on February 11, 2022. You can read my review of the movie here. As you can see, Death on the Nile is one of Christie’s most famous and enduring works and has been adapted into various formats for millions to enjoy. Death on the Nile is one of Agatha Christie’s best works.


The story begins with Poirot taking a vacation in Egypt and boarding the luxurious paddle steamer, the S.S. Karnak, for a cruise along the Nile. Among the other passengers on the ship are wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway Doyle and her new husband, Simon Doyle, who had previously been engaged to Linnet’s best friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort. Jacqueline is also on the cruise, and her presence creates tension and suspicion among the passengers due to her erratic and dangerous behavior. Jacqueline makes her intentions known to everyone on the cruise that she is there to ruin Linnet and Simon’s honeymoon.

Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle and Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in Death on the Nile (2022).

When suspicious accidents follow Linnet around Egypt, Simon and Linnet try to escape Jacqueline’s clutches by escaping onto the boat at a different time, but she is not easily fooled. Linnet tries appealing to Hercule Poirot to be her personal bodyguard, but her refuses. He does however try to talk to Jacqueline out of any further action against the couple, but she confides in him that to stop now would be impossible and shows him the small gun that she has brought on board. She says that if Simon doesn’t take her back she will use it to commit suicide. Hercule Poirot again urges caution, but Jacqueline is unswayed.

The next night, Jacqueline gets into a drunken quarrel with Simon Doyle at the bar on the Karnak. In a fit of rage she shoots him in the leg. A doctor is called to tend to Simon’s wound. Jacqueline is sedated and kept under watch in her cabin. When the passangers try to arouse Linnet to tell her about her husband’s wound is found murdered in her cabin, with the letter jay scrawled on the wall next to her in blood.

Jacqueline de Bellefort played by Emma Mackey in Death on the Nile (2022)

Hercule Poirot is called upon to investigate the crime. He discovers that there were many people on board who had a motive to kill Linnet, including Jacqueline, Simon, and several other passengers who had financial or personal reasons for wanting her dead. As Poirot delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of deceit, jealousy, and revenge among the passengers, and must use his unparalleled deductive skills to solve the mystery and bring the killer to justice.

Throughout the investigation, Poirot is aided by his loyal companion, Colonel Race, and a young woman named Rosalie Otterbourne, who provides important clues about the events leading up to the murder. In the end, Poirot uncovers the identity of the killer and reveals the complex and surprising motives behind the murder on the Nile.

Book Review

One of the strengths of “Death on the Nile” is its memorable cast of characters. Hercule Poirot is, of course, the standout character, and Christie portrays him as a brilliant detective who is both meticulous and empathetic. He is aided in his investigation by Colonel Race, who is depicted as a loyal and capable ally.

Colonel Race played by Peter Niven in Death on the Nile (1978)

Colonel Race is a character in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile who assists Hercule Poirot in solving the murder mystery that takes place on the Nile cruise ship. Race is a British intelligence officer who is on holiday in Egypt at the same time as Poirot. When the murder occurs, Race offers his assistance to Poirot, and the two men work together to unravel the clues and solve the crime.

Throughout the book, Race is portrayed as a loyal and capable ally to Poirot. He is depicted as a smart and resourceful man who is willing to go to great lengths to help Poirot solve the case. Race proves to be an invaluable asset to Poirot, providing him with important information and insights that help him to piece together the events leading up to the murder.

Race is also shown to be a man of integrity and honor. He is willing to put himself in danger in order to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice. This sense of duty and commitment to justice is a recurring theme in the book, and Race embodies these qualities throughout the story.

The other passengers on the S.S. Karnak are also well-drawn characters, each with their own distinct personalities and motivations. Linnet Doyle is portrayed as a beautiful and wealthy woman who is used to getting what she wants, while Simon Doyle is depicted as a somewhat naïve and easily manipulated man who is torn between his loyalty to Linnet and his feelings for Jacqueline de Bellefort.

Simon MacCorkindale as Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile (1978)

Jacqueline is one of the most interesting characters in the book, as she is portrayed as a complex and sympathetic figure who is driven to desperation by the betrayal of her best friend and former fiancé. Other passengers, such as the wealthy author Salome Otterbourne and her daughter Rosalie, add depth and intrigue to the story.

Death on the Nile explores several themes that are common to the detective fiction genre. One of the most prominent themes is the idea of justice, as Poirot works tirelessly to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice. The book also explores themes of love, jealousy, and revenge, as many of the passengers on the S.S. Karnak are motivated by these emotions.

Another theme that runs throughout the book is the idea of appearances versus reality. Many of the characters are not what they seem on the surface, and Poirot must dig beneath the façade to uncover the truth. The book also touches on the theme of power, as several of the characters are motivated by their desire for wealth or status. (An aside, but Angela Lansbury’s portrayal of Salome Otterbourne is the absolute highlight on the 1978 film.) Linnet is embroiled legal battles and shown to be a shrews business woman like her father. Her ill gotten wealth leads to animosity and fortune seekers all of which are traveling with her down the Nile.

Angela Lansbury as Salome Otterbourne in Death on the Nile (1978).

Agatha Christie’s writing style in Death on the Nile is characterized by its clarity, economy, and attention to detail. Christie is known for her ability to craft complex plots that keep readers guessing until the very end, and Death on the Nile is no exception.

One of Christie’s signature techniques is the use of misdirection, which she employs throughout the book to keep readers on their toes. By carefully controlling the flow of information and introducing red herrings, Christie is able to keep readers guessing about the identity of the murderer until the very end.

Christie’s writing style is also notable for its attention to detail. She carefully describes the settings, characters, and actions in the story, providing readers with a vivid and immersive experience. Her descriptions of the Nile cruise ship and the various locations along the river create a sense of place that adds depth and richness to the story.

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Death on the Nile (2022).

Another hallmark of Christie’s writing style is her use of dialogue. She is skilled at crafting conversations that reveal important information about the characters and move the plot forward. Her dialogue is natural and believable, with each character’s speech patterns reflecting their personality and background.

Christie’s prose is also notable for its simplicity and clarity. She avoids flowery language and convoluted sentence structures, instead opting for clear and concise writing that is easy to read and understand. This approach makes the book accessible to readers of all levels, while still allowing for a rich and complex story.

A fantastic setting, intriguing characters, and perenially deep motivations make Death on the Nile a book that is always a treat to read. The plot of Death on the Nile is a classic murder mystery, which is a genre that has a wide appeal to readers. Christie is known for her clever and intricate plots, and “Death on the Nile” is no exception. The story takes place on a luxurious Nile cruise ship, where a murder occurs, and the detective, Hercule Poirot, must solve the crime. The plot is full of twists and turns, and readers are kept guessing until the very end.

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978).

Christie is known for her well-drawn characters, and Death on the Nile is a prime example of this. The cast of characters is diverse, with each individual having their own backstory and motivations. The characters are also intriguing and complex, making them memorable and enjoyable to read about.

The book is set in Egypt, which is a location that has long fascinated readers. The descriptions of the Nile cruise ship and the various locations along the river create a sense of place that is vivid and immersive. The setting adds to the mystery and intrigue of the story, making it even more captivating for readers.

Despite being published in 1937, the story of Death on the Nile has remained relevant and engaging to readers. The themes of jealousy, betrayal, and murder are universal and timeless, and the book’s clever plot and well-drawn characters continue to captivate readers of all ages.

Christie is one of the most famous and beloved mystery writers of all time. She has sold millions of books worldwide and is considered a master of the genre. Death on the Nile is one of her most popular and well-known books, and its reputation as a classic murder mystery has helped to ensure its enduring popularity.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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