Reader reviews for Evil Under the Sun

Hard to believe, with all the books I read, that I've never read an Agatha Christie before, but indeed, I have not. This was my first, and I can certainly see why Christie is the world's most-published novelist. If there's one thing Christie can do, it's tell a good story. And that's precisely what she does in Evil under the Sun. I can see why readers find Christie's work compelling; she draws her readers in quickly, with a large cast of thickly-described characters and a vivid sense of surroundings. Evil under the Sun brings us to a seaside resort, where a group of holiday-makers, including Christie's famous Inspector Poirot, find themselves attempting to deal with a broad range of personalities. Likely the most abrasive of all is the beautiful and capricious socialite Arlena Marshall. When she turns up dead in a remote part of the beach, it becomes Poirot's calling to determine her murderer. The resort's island location makes it unlikely that anyone outside the hotel could be responsible. Thus, Poirot must discover the murderer in his midst. Everyone, it seems, had a motive. Yet everyone too had an alibi. The answer turns out to be far more complicated than anyone had anticipated. Christie's gift is clearly to tell a gripping story. While there are no great lessons on morality or statements on the human condition within this it is certainly entertaining, enjoyable, and just a bit scary.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Is EVIL UNDER THE SUN the perfect holiday read? Or will it make you look askance as your fellow holiday makers? Certainly the Jolly Roger Hotel, Smugglers’ Island, Leathercombe Bay sounds attractive and the setting exudes a feeling of summer. Captain Roger Angmering had only one great love, the sea. So he built his house—a sturdy house too, as it needed to be, on the little windswept gull-haunted promontory—cut off from land at each high tide. The sturdy house was added to and embellished. A concrete causeway was laid down from the mainland to the island. ‘Walks’ and ‘Nooks’ were cut and devised all round the island. There were two tennis courts, sun-terraces leading down to a little bay embellished with rafts and diving boards. The Jolly Roger Hotel, Smugglers’ Island, Leathercombe Bay, came triumphantly into being. And from June till September (with a short season at Easter) the Jolly Roger Hotel was usually packed to the attics. It was enlarged and improved in 1934 by the addition of a cocktail bar, a bigger dining-room and some extra bathrooms. The prices went up. People said: ‘Ever been to Leathercombe Bay? Awfully jolly hotel there, on a sort of island. Very comfortable and no trippers or charabancs. Good cooking and all that. You ought to go.’ And people did go.Several of the holiday makers recognise Hercule Poirot. (who wouldn't?) resplendent in a white duck suit, with a panama hat tilted over his eyes, his moustaches magnificently befurled, lay back in an improved type of deck-chair and surveyed the bathing beach.and go as far as to ask if he is there on "business". He replies: let me assure you, Madame, that I am here simply in the same way that you are here yourselves—to enjoy myself—to spend the holiday. I do not think of crime even.There is some discussion about whether crime could ever happen in such an idyllic spot: ‘No, I don’t believe even Mrs Gardener would have believed in a crime staged here. This isn’t the sort of place you’d get a body!’ Hercule Poirot stirred a little in his chair. He protested. He said: ‘But why not, Mademoiselle? Why should there not be what you call a “body” here on Smugglers’ Island?’ Emily Brewster said: ‘I don’t know. I suppose some places are more unlikely than others. This isn’t the kind of spot—’ She broke off, finding it difficult to explain her meaning. ‘It is romantic, yes,’ agreed Hercule Poirot. ‘It is peaceful. The sun shines. The sea is blue. But you forget, Miss Brewster, there is evil everywhere under the sun.’Some even privately express a belief (a murderer amongst them) that if a crime does occur Poirot is probably "past it". He’s Hercule Poirot. You must have heard of him.’ Mr Blatt said: ‘Didn’t catch his name properly. Oh yes, I’ve heard of him. But I thought he was dead. Dash it, he ought to be dead. What’s he after down here?’ ...... ‘He’s pretty old. Probably more or less ga ga.’Well, the reader knows from the beginning (because of the publisher's blurb) that a murder will occur. Poirot knows it will too but can't see how he can prevent it. And we readers even know who the victim will be. What we don't know is when, how, and why.One of Poirot's problems is that, although he is pretty sure who one of the murderers is, he likes her. She has qualities he appreciates in the 'modern' young woman - plenty of resolution, courage and good sense - and so he is reluctant to place her in the picture until he gets irrefutable evidence of an earlier crime and then the penny drops. It is a dilemma that often crops up for Poirot - feminine wiles can get the better of him.For those who need it in their holiday reading, there is also romance, and a young life saved.EVIL UNDER THE SUN is an enjoyable read, well constructed, fairly complex plot, but I think quite a way from Christie's best. I was particularly exasperated by the final chapter in which Poirot lays everything out before us. This was one case where perhaps Christie could have left it to the reader to put it all together. (Kindle tells me the chapter is 5% of the total book.) Perhaps Christie could have finished when the murderer lunged to get his hands around Poirot's throat. The explanations of chapter 13 got a bit tedious.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Pretty good mystery, lots of indirection; Poirot as usual picks up on the little clues that the police ignore, and doesn't make the assumptions that they make. Numerous characters have somewhat plausible motives, and there are a couple of red herrings. The solution is quite convoluted and depends on information that Poirot obtained but we didn't see, which is a bit frustrating. The characters are quite dated. Enjoyable but not fantastic.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It's hard to review classic authors such as Christie. To me, she's a master of creating suspicion and changing your mind, only to create suspicion again. I really enjoy these.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Agatha Christie is thus far the only female author which I read, and indeed the only other woman besides my wife that I return to again and again for pleasure. Within Christie's writings—such as within "Evil Under the Sun"—we find such unique pleasantries of minutiae as the description of the quality of a man's briar pipe; of the tired old stories of a retired officer—Major Barry—who fought in India; of the dual nature of men; of waxed mustaches...I first saw, a while back, the Poirot made-for-TV episode, "Evil Under the Sun". The book was reminiscent, but I still was unsure who the murderer was until the end. I dislike viewing anything before I have read it, but in the case of Poirot, it was irresistible. My wife and I too have just acquired the Wii video game, "Evil Under the Sun".Let it not be said that I am without gripes however. The character of the Reverend Stephen Lane stands out as rather lame. The other characters are quite complex; the parson however, simply a fanatic—all too common a fallback in modern fiction, which reveals how misunderstood the Christian religion is. Then again, with what such real-life scandalous reverends that make the news each month, it is only to be expected, I suppose.My other gripe is that Captain Kenneth Marshall and Rosamund Darnley's morals are quite disturbing. The result of their amorality, at least in the case of Marshall's, manifests in his daughter Linda Marshall, who attempted to kill her stepmother by means of witchcraft, and then attempted suicide, believing she indeed succeeded in matricide. Rather than to face up to the consequences, rather than to talk it out with Poirot, she seeks to kill herself, ending her misery. Here is why I find Ken and Rosamund to be alarming: Each suspected the other of murder. Rather than seeking to allay their suspicions, each swallows them and each tries to protect the other, going to such lengths as to lie to the authorities. Not only this, but they each plan a future together, never mind each suspecting the other of being a murderer. Each is also willing to place the girl Linda in this horrid nightmare of a homicidal home. Evil under the sun, indeed.I found most fascinating the psychological profile of Arlena Stuart Marshall—the murdered woman— which Poirot propounds upon. I just happen to be reading C.S. Lewis' "Perelandra" at this time. Arlena is the Lady of Perelandra—tragically and totally transformed into a self-centered materialist. Indeed, Arlena was the victim. We offer ourselves as unknowing Andromeda; as perfumed Jezebels, loath, accursed creatures, blind to our destination of decrepitation. Reverend Lane here was a nutter—was unlearned, with bad theology—he mistook the Whore of Babylon for a literal person, rather than the personification of a materialist self-centered society.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is not one of Agatha Christie's better books; it was not particularly interesting or imaginative (I know some people don't think any of her books are imaginative since they all essentially follow the same formula, but I'm speaking as a Christie fan here). I think, generally, I'm more of a Miss Marple fan, since her generalizations about human nature are more individualized ("She reminds me of a chamber maid I had once" or "He reminds me of that unfortunate boy, the son of the butcher"), while Poirot's are all "men always..." or "women never..."
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
Vintage Poirot. When the man-eater Arlena Stuart is murdered the motive seems obvious, jealousy, revenge... but papa Poriot is on hand to reveal just who really did it...
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It had been many years since I read Christie, though I think I read everything of hers at one time. Lately I've been picking up and re-reading one or two, and may do more of them. After so long, I remember little about the books, so they are like new discoveries, except that reading about Poirot or Miss Marple is like catching up with an old friend one hasn't seen in a while. What I discover is that there are reasons Christie is still so popular. Oh, sure, we can condemn her now for her occasional racist and imperialist stereotypes, but like all writers, she was a mirror of her times. What is so pleasurable about Christie are that her books are character-driven puzzles. You get to know the people in the books and that reveals the puzzle of who could do such a terrible thing as murder and why. And her characters are superbly ordinary people. In this book, for example, you've got the husband, stiff upper lip but inner fires type, the chattering Americans, the athletic spinster, a successful businesswoman, the coltish teenage girl, etc. Stereotypes in some ways, but the characters come alive. The victim in some ways isn't ordinary, an incredibly beautiful woman who attracts men, but in the end her character is shown to be a sad and rather pathetic one.One gets tired, in our television and movie culture, of the pretty people, and that's another thing that made Christie extraordinary. Poirot was a rotund egocentric eccentric, and Miss Marple an old spinster who looked entirely unremarkable, yet both were keen observers of humanity and the heroes of the works. It is a lesson that there is value in all of us.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was my first Agatha Christie book, and I was very pleased with it. The book had so many plot twist and turns. It was hard to put down. It would be a great beach read! I will definitely read some more books by this author. Mrs. Christie does a great job of playing at each one of her characters’ personalities, and had a great way of throwing suspicion at everyone without knowing until the end how and who did it. Highly recommended!
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Hercule Poirot is on vacation, but of course there's evil everywhere under the sun. As all of Agatha's work, it will keep you suspecting who the murderer is, and second guessing everyone until Poirot reveals the truth. There is no "twist" but the mechanics of the murder that set up the story are different than in other of Agatha's novels which was very fun to read.If you enjoy Christies's mysteries, you will enjoy this one for sure.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
scribd