Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Remembered Death: Agatha Christie

Beautiful, charming Rosemary Barton dies from drinking a glass of cyanide-laced champagne at her own birthday party at a nightclub in London. The assumption is that her death was suicide, but as six of those close to Rosemary think back to the details and events leading up to the event, some of them begin to question that verdict.

The book's structure is different from other Agatha Christie novels I have read. It is divided into thirds, roughly. The first third consists of six chapters, each featuring one of the people at Rosemary’s birthday dinner. The first chapter centers on Iris, her younger, quieter sister. That part of the story I especially liked because we get to know those six people  and realize that they all had motives to kill her.

In the middle section, George Barton, Rosemary's husband, plans to re-stage the dinner party at the Luxembourg nearly a year after her death, hoping to catch her murderer. And the third section follows the events at that second dinner.

What I liked:

  • The unusual structure, including the reminiscences of those who attended the dinner party, was a plus for me. 
  • There is a romance, and Agatha Christie usually handles those very well. We never know how they will end. Actually there were several romances and each was interesting.
  • I was completely fooled, never suspected who the murderer was. And how the murder was carried out was very clever, and believable, although depending on a bit of luck.
  • Most of the characters are well-fleshed out and distinctive. And with all of that background on the characters I still couldn't guess who did it.
  • Colonel Race is an old friend of George Barton, and calls him "young George". I have enjoyed all the novels that include Colonel Race, and I am happy that I still have one left to read: Cards on the Table, an earlier novel.

This book by Agatha Christie was published in the UK as Sparkling Cyanide.

See these reviews at:

In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel


Clothes in Books


Publisher:  Pocket Books, 1986. Orig. pub. 1945.
Length:     194 pages
Format:     Paperback
Setting:     UK
Genre:       Mystery
Source:     I purchased my copy.


Margot Kinberg said...

I like Colonel Race, too, Tracy, and it was nice to see him in this one. You make a well-taken point, too, about the structure of the story. That's actually something I always liked about Christie: she tried out different structures and approaches to telling a story.

Kate said...

Interesting review, as I have read this book before but have quite dim memories of it now. I can see this being another Christie to add to the re-read pile.

TracyK said...

I liked this one a lot, Margot. It would be hard for me to rank the books by Christie that I have read so far, but this would be one of the favorites.

TracyK said...

Yes, this would be a good re-read for you, Kate. And I would love to hear your opinion.

Rick Robinson said...

I'm pretty sure I've read it, under the Brit. title, but I have no memory of it, or it's structure. Did the butler do it?

TracyK said...

No, not the butler, Rick. I am trying to remember if there actually was a butler. There must have been.

Mathew Paust said...

Way behind on my Christie. Thanks for the enticing reminder!

TracyK said...

I am reading through Christie's books at a slower rate than I would like, Matt, but there are so many good authors to read.

Kay said...

I remember this one - vaguely. Probably should read it again or see if it is available on audio. I like Colonel Race too. CARDS ON THE TABLE is one of my favorite Christie books. I've read it several times.

Clothes In Books said...

I don't always remember the US titles, so when I saw the title of the post I still wasn't sure what you'd be writing about. And was really pleased! One of my favourites, and one I think that has some depth in the relationships. Some different romances and marriages cleverly portrayed I thought. So glad you liked it too, and thanks for the shoutout.

TracyK said...

Kay, I have been looking forward to CARDS ON THE TABLE and I am not sure why I read REMEMBERED DEATH first... not that it makes any difference with the Colonel Race books. That will probably be my next Christie read, if something else doesn't distract me first.

TracyK said...

Moira: Of Christie's books I have read in the last few years, this is a favorite of mine also. I think I have read about twenty in that time and I have too many favorites.

col2910 said...

Probably one I can pass on thanks.

TracyK said...

Definitely, Col. There are other books by Christie which might be more for you.