They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie is not a murder mystery. The book can be categorised as a thriller. As the title of the book suggests, the book is set in the exotic city of Baghdad. The book is relatively a fast-paced read and you will be able to finish it pretty soon.
The book revolves around a young woman Victoria Jones. This woman has a habit of lying frequently but convincingly. She ventures into an ill-advised adventure to Baghdad to find a handsome young man with whom she had exchanged a flirtatious conversation on a park bench in the morning. However, she is not the only person who is going to Baghdad. In fact, an interesting cast of characters including Charmichael (a disguised agent), Anna Scheele (a mysterious young woman), Richard Baker (an officious archaeologist), Dr. Pauncefoot Jones (a well-known but eccentric archaeologist), Sir Rupert Croften-Lee (a flamboyant explorer), Mr. Dakin (a covert agent) and a number of others are also assembling in the city of Baghdad. Some sort of secret summit is going to take place in this city, and Victoria gets caught up in it. Any further detail might spoil the story and therefore I will not disclose anything else.
While the book has received a number of great reviews on Goodreads, the book failed to impress me on many levels. Firstly, I found the number of characters too high for my liking. In almost every chapter in the first ten chapters of the book, readers get introduced to a new character and, after a period of time, it becomes difficult to keep track of all these characters. On top of that, a number of characters did not get the space they should have been given in the book. Some of the characters were really interesting and definitely deserved more space. I would have liked to know more about characters like Anna Scheele, Mr. Dakin, and Charmichael. Secondly, at a number of places, I found the story unbelievable. There were too many coincidences to be believable. Thirdly and most importantly, it seems that the thrillers written by Agatha Christie are not my cup of tea. While I love reading murder mysteries by her, none of Christie’s thrillers has impressed me so far.
However, not all things are bad in this book. Let us turn our attention to the positive aspects of the book. The book starts slowly but gradually picks up the pace. The plot is interesting and will force the readers to keep their eyes glued on the pages. The sequence of events keeps producing some sort of suspense in the book. I won’t say that the book is a roller-coaster ride but it is neither a dull ride too. The city of Baghdad has been described beautifully and Christie has even been successful in capturing minute details of archaeological excavation. The character of Victoria Jones, the central lead of this novel, has been sketched really well. In fact, it is her character that adds a charm to this novel.
In the end, I would like to say that do not judge this book on the basis of my review. Go and read, and then make your own judgment. A large number of people have liked this book and you may like the book too. And, Christie’s writings have a definite charisma and, most importantly, we need to read her books.