Agatha Christe / Book Reviews / Fiction / Murder Mystery / Suspense-thrillers

Review of ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ by Agatha Christie

Ordeal by InocenceMy Rating (****)

While Agatha Christie is no more with us, her novels still rule the world of murder mysteries. Her novels have been reprinted so many times and most probably will keep entertaining the readers in future too. I started reading Christie a long time back and always enjoyed reading her works (except some which disappointed me). I still reread many of her novels with perfect enjoyment.

This novel has the usual situation as one generally witness in Christie’s mysteries. The murderer is someone within a small group of people and all suspect each other. The story begins with an interesting plot. Jacko, accused of the murder of his adoptive mother and sentenced to life imprisonment, dies behind bars following a bout of pneumonia. Nearly two years later, Dr. Arthur Calgary turns up with the evidence that could have acquitted Jacko. Strange events start to happen and reopen old wounds in Argyle family. Most importantly, this triggers further tragedy in Sunny Point. I can’t give any further detail as it may accidentally give away the whodunit.

This novel is also unusual in having so definite a social message. Hester, Mary, Micky, Tina and Jacko (the adopted children of Rachel Argyle, now adults) of this novel provide the main perspective and point of view in the novel. These characters are presented through a series of symbols which suggest or reflect the inner conflicts among themselves. Christie presents them as rebellious (except Tina), but in the end, to powerless to subvert. In other words, the core of the novel examines adopted children’s attempts to assert their independence, and their failure in this enterprise. Ordeal by Innocence, in a way, symbolizes this conflict. The novel also presents the bafflement of a society, in its face-to-face encounter with new notions of self-hood.

‘Ordeal by Innocence’ is one of the novels that pleased Christie herself. She had a very clear idea of what she wished to achieve in this novel and she accomplished it beautifully. This book is without Poirot and Marple and some readers may find nothing special. Some readers may also feel that the book is slow and has been dragged unnecessarily. However, everyone will appreciate the way the author has weaved the story. Plot is brilliant and grasping. I enjoyed reading this and will recommend it to all Christie fans.

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