Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" by Agatha Christie

 I recently read three of the short stories from Detective Stories (chosen by Philip Pullman). They were:

"The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Cold Money" by Ellery Queen

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" by Agatha Christie

I enjoyed all of those but today I will talk about the Agatha Christie story. We have been watching adaptations of the Hercule Poirot stories in Agatha Christie's Poirot, starring David Suchet. I don't know why it took me so long to try the adaptations of the Hercule Poirot stories, although at some point it was probably because of having no access to them. Now we have Brit Box via Prime and can watch all the seasons. We have not gotten to this episode which is fortunate, because I would rather have read it first. I am enjoying the series and David Suchet's version of Poirot. He is perfect in the role. "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" is the first episode in Season Five and we have watched most of Season Three. 

In "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb," Hercule Poirot is requested to investigate the death of Sir John Willard, who died after the discovery and opening of the tomb of King Men-her-Ra. Several other deaths of members of the expedition involved in that event have also died, and there is much talk of a curse related to the opening of the tomb.

Lady Willard, Sir John's wife, is concerned that there will be more deaths, and her son is now continuing the excavations at the tomb. After some investigation of the related deaths, Poirot decides he and Hastings must travel to Egypt, even though he hates the thought of traveling by sea.

And in the end, of course, Poirot solves the mystery of the many deaths connected to the opening of the Egyptian tomb.

I love Hastings' narration. When I began reading the novels in 2012, I was disappointed that Hastings did not narrate all of them.

Hastings describes their arrival in Egypt:

The charm of Egypt had laid hold of me. Not so Poirot. Dressed precisely the same as in London, he carried a small clothes-brush in his pocket and waged an unceasing war on the dust which accumulated on his dark apparel.

‘And my boots,’ he wailed. ‘Regard them, Hastings. My boots, of the neat patent leather, usually so smart and shining. See, the sand is inside them, which is painful, and outside them, which outrages the eyesight. Also the heat, it causes my moustaches to become limp—but limp!’

This was my favorite of the three stories I have read so far in Detective Stories. And it is the first Hercule Poirot short story I have read. It did not disappoint.


19 comments:

Cath said...

Oh, David Suchet was so perfect as Poirot. So much so that I can't really tolerate anyone else in the role though I did enjoy Peter Ustinov playing him. Both actors 'got' the humour in the writing in my opinion. We watched all of them at the point of airing and then a couple of years ago we set the Humax box to record all of the repeats that were croping up on other channels. It was wonderful to sit and watch them all again. Oddly enough I don't remember this one you review so well, but that quote perfectly illustrates the humour. David Suchet has written a book about playing Poirot, the title of which eludes me now but it's very good. I seem to be completely addicted to anything connected to vintage crime at the moment. Oh well, there are worse addictions.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, as Cath says, Suchet was "perfect" as Poirot and I'd the opportunity to watch several of the episodes on television nearly two decades ago. After your review, I'm in the mood to read Agatha Christie.

Margot Kinberg said...

I thought The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb was great, too, Tracy. It's a clever use of misdirection, and I like the portrait it gives of the way Egypt was seen at that time. And I agree about David Suchet. He is Poirot, as far as I'm concerned.

Katrina said...

David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. I also love the stylishness of his Art Deco flat in London, inside and out.

Todd Mason said...

You missed the Suchet POIROT episodes when they ran on PBS back when, including the occasional repeats? They were good, weren't they...and get across the humor of Christie, indeed, which Poirot was a very useful vessel of, with his perceptions of the English he allowed Christie to deliver (since I haven't read any of her novels yet, and mostly the Poirots among the short stories, I haven't so much come across her apparently regrettable class snobbery and such so far).

Interesting that Pullman would dabble thus, and pull out so many chestnuts for the purpose!

I tried to join the #1956Club last night, only to finally note this morning that the 11th and not the 13th was the closing of the window...so much for observational skill...

TracyK said...

Cath, I really never thought I would enjoy seeing the short stories in adaptation (and I had never read any of them). I don' think that they all great mysteries but they all have humor and wonderful settings. We watched The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor last night and the country home it was filmed at is magnificent. And we agree on Suchet as Poirot. I also enjoy Peter Ustinov as Poirot. Because I saw all the other Poirot actors before I saw Suchet, I was not bothered by them, but I see Suchet in the novels when I read them now.

TracyK said...

Prashant, all this talk of Poirot has put me in the mood to read one of the novels and more short stories. I need to read ONE, TWO, BUCKLE MY SHOE before we get to that episode in the series.

TracyK said...

Margot, this was the perfect Poirot short story for me to start with. We had recently purchased a DVD of Death on the Nile starring Suchet and watched it (and loved it). My husband and I also purchased a book of all the Hercule Poirot stories, and I will be sampling more of those.

TracyK said...

Katrina, we love the Art Deco locations in this series also. Too bad we came to this series so late, but we are enjoying them now.

TracyK said...

Todd, we did not have a television in the 1980s, and I cannot remember exactly when in the 1990s that we got a TV. At that point we really only used it for TCM movies and watching tapes and laserdiscs. So we missed a lot of shows when they first aired on TV.

DETECTIVE STORIES (chosen by Pullman) was aimed ages 9-14, but when I looked at the authors represented, most of them were not written for that age group. It was part of a series of books presenting stories in different genres to that age group. And it has illustrations I enjoyed too.

Yes, the #1956 club was only for a week, and I had forgotten the exact dates.

Christophe said...

It is funny how, in some cases, Poirot’s English is a—bad—literal translation of French. An example is in the quote about his boots: “regard them” sounds odd in English, but “regarded les” would be quite regular French. Those little touches show that Christie knew her French.

TracyK said...

Although I don't know French that well (only from high school and that was a long time ago), Christophe, Poirot's English has always had a convincingly French sound to me. Maybe that is why she got tired of him, because she had to work harder to keep his character consistent.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Suchet was so perfect that it ruins any production where someone else (Branagh, for instance) tried to play the part. It's like John Thaw in Morse. It has to be him.

CLM said...

This sounds fun! I don't usually like short stories but I am intrigued by the idea of Philip Pullman being involved. Although maybe I am giving him too much credit - based on my years in publishing, it is possible he was just paid to write an introduction and others chose the selections. In recent years, I have grown weary of Poirot. Now that it occurs to me, I wonder if it is due to the Hannah continuations which I find convincing as to voice but tedious.

Unrelated, Tracy, I really enjoyed the story of the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, particularly the sections about Lord Carnarvon's time in Egypt searching for King Tut's grave. I think the book would be interesting even to those who did not watch the show. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12926432-lady-almina-and-the-real-downton-abbey

My Anglophile friends can't believe I don't have BritBox. Maybe I do via Prime; I will have to investigate. I find I never get around to watching things I record or on Netflix as there are always books about to be overdue or assignments for grad school due.

TracyK said...

Patti, I had heard that about Suchet for years, and now I find it is true myself. We watched both DEATH ON THE NILE and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS with Suchet and found them as good or better than other adaptations we had seen.

TracyK said...

Constance, I have never tried the Hannah continuations. It will take me long enough to read all the books and stories written by Christie. I read a lot of Christie when I was young, then ignored her books for a long time, then decided to read them again, since I remembered only two or three of the stories. I had never read AND THEN THERE WERE NONE until this year and I loved it.

I have that book you mentioned about the real Downton Abbey (and I had forgotten about it). I will have to dig it out of wherever it is hiding.

We pay extra for BritBox on Prime. We debated between that or Acorn. We now are watching Shetland and Poirot on BritBox, and plan to watch he Bleak House adaptation sometime.

CLM said...

I think it was Shetland that my parents found (on PBS maybe?) several years ago and were excited because the actress who played Kalinda on The Good Wife (one of the few TV shows we all loved) but had a really hard time understanding the dialogue. Someone suggested they use the captioning, which was brilliant. I should offer my mother the books.

TracyK said...

Constance, We have a hard time understanding the dialogue on Shetland, but we have never resorted to close captioning. The Shetland books are very much different from the TV series (although I only read the first four books). The TV series added some characters, some relationships are different. I like both.

Clothes in Books said...

I like Christie's stories very much - in a different way from the novels, but they have their own charms. You've made me want to re-read one of the collections.