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Evil Under the Sun

“There is evil everywhere under the sun. ” – Hercule Poirot (The Great Belgian Detective) I book I have recently read is ‘Evil under the Sun’ by Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie is famous for her crime mystery novels and short stories and like any other of her books this one is also a murder mystery. This book brings excitement and also challenges you to solve the mystery that Christie has brilliantly presented with the use of rather simple words and everyday language and repeats it, rather than trying to introduce new words and phrases.

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She also relies heavily on dialogue throughout the book. In addition, the solution often depends upon the reader’s interpretation of something that a character says. Therefore by keeping her dialogues very simple and straightforward, and not challenging the reader with the vocabulary, she leaves us free to focus on the plot. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, England. Her father, Frederick, was an outgoing American with an independent income. Her mother, Clara, was rather shy; Agatha resembled her greatly in personality.

There were two other children – Madge and Monty, both older than Agatha. Although Agatha had amused herself as a child, acting out stories and make believe, her writing career really began after her sister Madge challenged her to write a novel. It took several years to get her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles published. Agatha’s happiness was complete when Rosalind, her only daughter was born on 5th August 1919 but by 1926, her life was in tatters: Christie’s mother Clara died and Archie left her for another woman.

She then went to Baghdad to rebuild her life and married Max Mallowan and continued writing stories. After a hugely successful career and a wonderful life Agatha died peacefully on 12 January 1976. Agatha had an easily recognisable style of writing, but this only led her to fame. There is a level of repetition of key concepts in her words within a small space. When Agatha is getting a concept across, she repeats key words and words which are similar in meaning in rapid succession and in a condensed space. This is how language affects the mind and how the words can ave an affect on how we think and feel. By repeating words at least 3 times in a paragraph, it enables the reader to become convinced about something. In addition, a person’s conscious mind has a very limited focus, and can only focus on between five and nine things at one time. Once there are more than nine things to focus on, the conscious mind can’t continue to track them all, and so the person literally goes into a hypnotic trance. Agatha often uses this by using more than nine characters, and by having more than nine plot lines taking place at any one time.

As the reader’s mind gets overloaded, they start to begin really experiencing the book, feeling the book, and getting lost in it. Agatha Christie very precisely controls the speed at which we read her books, by changing the level of descriptive passages. There are more descriptive passages at the beginning of her book than at the end, which has the effect that we read more quickly towards the end of her books… literally we are rushing towards the end to see who did it! The book very well depicts the way she writes.

This extract is from the beginning of the story and clearly shows the immense descriptive but simple language used by Christie; “Hercule Poirot, resplendent in a white duck suit, with a panama tilted over his eyes, his moustaches magnificently befurled, lay back in a deck chair on a sunny terrace overlooking the bathing beach. Casually his fellow guests at the luxury hotel moved around him, talking, knitting, drying from their bathes, anointing themselves with oil. ” As I mentioned earlier that Agatha uses multitudinous characters to lure the readers into her realm.

There are many characters in this story as well and are described in such a manner that they speak to the reader and not only make the readers sympathise for their soft side but also make them empathise. These characters are as follows: -Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective with the little “grey cells” -Colonel Weston, the Chief Constable -Inspector Colgate, the investigating officer -Sergeant Phillips, a policeman in the case -Dr. Neasdon, the police surgeon -Captain Kenneth Marshall, Arlena’s present husband, proud as Lucifer -Arlena

Stuart Marshall, a former actress and Kenneth Marshall’s wife -Linda Marshall, Kenneth’s daughter and Arlena’s stepdaughter, naive and precocious -Patrick Redfern, Arlena’s lover and Christine’s husband -Christine Redfern, Patrick’s wife, pretty in a washed out way and a “mousy”/silent woman. -Rosamund Darnley, a fashionable dressmaker and Kenneth’s past childhood friend -Emily Brewster, an athletic spinster -Mrs. Carrie Gardener, a garrulous American tourist -Mr. Odell Gardener, the husband of Mrs. Gardener who quite obligingly does whatever Mrs. Gardener says. -Sir Horace Blatt, a yachtsman, a “self made” man Reverend Stephen Lane, a clerical guest who quite openly declares Arlena Marshall the evilest in the land. -Major Barry, a retired officer who fought in India -Gladys Narracott, a chambermaid in the Jolly Roger Hotel -Mrs. Daffney Castle, the owner of the Jolly Roger Hotel The plot of this magnificent story is quite complicated but the motive of the murder in the story is “money”. Arlena is a very beautiful retired actress and a flirtatious young woman with many men attracted to her. She goes to the Jolly Roger Hotel with her husband and step daughter, Kenneth and Linda Marshall.

Linda Marshall, a sixteen-year-old girl, dislikes her stepmother very much. Arlena flirts in the hotel with a handsome man named Patrick Redfern who is infatuated with her. This makes his wife Christine Redfern, an educated schoolteacher, jealous and hurt. Early on the morning of the murder, Christine witnesses Linda accidentally dropping a parcel, which reveals a number of candles. Christine asks Linda to come to Gull Cove with her. On the same morning, Arlena goes out on a float and asks Poirot not to tell anyone where she is going.

In Poirot’s mind Arlena is going to meet Patrick Redfern, but he is proved wrong when Patrick asks Poirot if he has seen Arlena. Patrick Redfern asks Emily Brewster to join him in a rowboat outing. They eventually reach Pixy Cove and find a body lying there, her arms outstretched and her face hidden by a hat. It is the strangled body of Arlena, killed at about quarter to 12. When they begin to question people’s whereabouts, Kenneth Marshall says he was in his room typing letters at the time of the murder. Linda lies that she was fond of her stepmother.

She also claims that she and Christine went to Gull Cove at about 10:30 and that she returned to the hotel at about quarter to 12, which would mean it was impossible for her to have committed the murder because the murder was committed at exactly quarter to 12. The Gardeners were with Hercule Poirot at that time of the murder and thus cleared of suspicion. Rosamund Darnley claims that she went to Sunny Ledge (above the Pixy Cove) to read a book. She says that she saw no one because she was concentrating on reading but while Emily and Patrick were rowing a boat, they saw her there.

As for the rest of the group, Stephen Lane and Major Barry went out and Horace Blatt sailed. Christine, Rosamund, Kenneth and Mr. Gardener all went to play tennis at noon. The chambermaid also heard Kenneth Marshall typing in his room, thus corroborating Kenneth’s story and clearing him of suspicion. Poirot goes to Pixy Cove to investigate the place, he finds a pair of new scissors, a fragment of pipe, and a bottle. The pipe could be Kenneth’s, but he is not the only one who smokes a pipe. On entering Pixy’s Cave he also finds heroin.

There are suspicions that Horace Blatt has something to do with smuggling of drugs or with the murder. Poirot also enquires about the murder of Alice Corrigan many years ago. It emerges that she was also strangled but her murderer was never caught. Alice’s husband Edward claimed innocence and had an alibi because he was away at that time, thus, making him impossible to commit the murder. Alice’s body was found at the time by a school teacher. Poirot has an idea to go for a picnic, perhaps to make a little test. Christine and Emily had both mentioned that they were afraid of heights.

Therefore, when they are made to cross a narrow bridge with running water below nearby on the way to the picnic, they should feel giddy and uncomfortable doing so. Emily does, yet Christine crosses the bridge without any problems. Therefore it is shown that she has told at least one lie – could all she had said earlier be lies too? When they return, the chambermaid tells them that Linda is not feeling well. On entering her room it transpires that Linda took six sleeping pills in an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, leaving a letter confessing that she was the one who killed Arlena.

As she recovers, the true nature of her confession is revealed – the mysterious parcel of candles she had dropped earlier was part of a magic spell directed at Arlena, and she mistakenly believed it to have killed her. After that Poirot tells everyone the identity of the murderer. Patrick Redfern’s real identity is Edward Corrigan, the husband of Alice Corrigan who was also murdered by Patrick years ago. The games mistress who found her body was Christine Redfern, then known as Christine Deverill, and she also helped Edward to kill Alice. So, Patrick Redfern and Christine Redfern killed Arlena.

The body Patrick and Emily had seen was the live body of Christine, who was helping Patrick. When Emily left to call the police, Christine went to the hotel and Patrick strangled Arlena, who was in the cave. The story is very involving because there is too much happening and the key to solve the challenging mystery is only one man, Hercule Poirot. The overall impression of the book is good and I believe it is a good read for anyone who enjoys the intricacies of the motives and the cleanliness of committing murder. I recommend this book to everyone in my class and even to you ma’am, if you haven’t read then you should give it a try


I'm Sophie Gosser!

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