WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Basic Plot: Linnet Ridegway seems to have it all: looks, money, and popularity. When she spies her friends new fiance though and decides she must have one, she gains one more thing, the hate and murderous jealousy of her ex-best friend, Jacqueline . But when it’s more than clear that Jacqueline couldn’t have killed her, who could have, especially when the boats filled with possible murderers all with potential motives.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The plot is a wonderful demonstration of the cunning, insecurities, jealousies, and hopes in the creature we all know as human. So many lives intertwined in a story with so many personalities and all arranged carefully make for an dramatic story that feels believable.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Agatha Christie knows how to build a story perfectly in foreshadowing, suspense, and excitement. So many perfectly hidden clues are spread throughout the book that in the end all make sense.
As for pacing, the story spends a lot of its time building the tension and developing the characters before it hits the points of action in the story. Despite this through build up though, on words are wasted on unnecessary details that leave the reader in dry literature.
Moral: 3/5 Good Morals: Throughout are several morals which are good. The easily inferred one, perhaps even obvious, is that the wicked do get their just desserts, as the villains of this story do. There is also though, the morals that obsession leads to ruin and that
Overall: 4/5 Well Done: Agatha Christie has crafted a story with as much cleverness as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and as much character development as George Eliot. I would recommend it to teenagers and adults.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 3/5 Occasional Mention of Sexual Things: A woman novelist mentions that she writes novels that center around the human sex drive and feels that there should be no shame in such promiscuity as it is “real.” Her disgusted daughter says of her, “There is not God but Sex and [her mother] is its Prophet” before acknowledging that statement was inappropriate. A woman talks about the possible sexual connections to murder. Characters say that a girl has a nice “shape.” “Naked” is used for descriptive purposes. It mentions briefly that a woman’s underthings are in her room. A character mentions that a man left his wife for another woman.
Violence: 2½/5 Some Moderate Violence: The reader witnesses the murder of two characters and the suicide of another, while two deaths happen in between scenes. A man’s leg is shot. A bolder nearly falls onto a woman. All of these deaths but one is caused by shooting, the other by stabbing.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2½/5 Frequent Moderate Cursing: “Damn” is misused thirty-three times. “Hell” is misused six times. God’s name is taken in vain eighteen times. “Gosh” and “Lord” are said once each. Mon Dieu (French for “My God”) and Gott im Himmel (German for “God in Heaven”) are exclaimed twice each. Other expressions that are neutral include “That’s God’s truth,” “Thank God,” and “Honest to God.” A man swears once with on explanation for what he said. The word “dick” is used, not as a curse word, as a slang term for detective.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2½/5 Some Intense and Disturbing Content: The novel centers on the mystery of a woman that was murdered and the two connecting murders that follow. A few times, a suspect mentions wanting to kill other characters, specifically by shooting the one in the head or stabbing her. She also mentions her father killed a man in a duel once. A man says he wants to wring a girl’s neck. A man angrily remarks a few times that people ought to be shot or killed. Once he rejoices upon hearing that some people have been murdered, and is then rebuked by another character. A woman says she will commit suicide while thrashing towards the edge of a boat but fails. A girl talks about how her friend once stabbed a boy with a penknife because he was teasing a dog. A man asks if another woman has ever been attacked by a certain character, and she says that she has merely been threatened with a duel suicide and murder. It is mentioned that a man died from “discouragement.” A man mentions thinking about death in general. A woman mentions that she thinks a man would have poisoned his wife with arsenic and think the doctor “would say” it’s gastritis. A woman says she won’t commit suicide through swallowing acid.
Blood pours from a woman’s head after being, and another woman’s head has blood around the wound. The latter’s blood is used to write the letter J on the wall. After a man’s leg is shot, it bleeds, has a bullet in it, and a broken bone. It is worried he won’t be able to walk ever again. It mentions that a woman fainted into a man’s arms.
A girl is so enamored with a man that she says she will literally die if he wasn’t with her. It is mentioned that kings used to cut off people’s heads. A man warns a woman about the dangers of being “swept overboard,” and a woman mentions that she thought mistakenly that someone had fallen overboard. Characters show only their heads and they briefly look as if their head has been cut off. A man’s cloth is reddened by what is believed to be blood. People ask the main character about his past murder mysteries. It mentions that a girl looked like she had been crying, and characters actually do cry from implied drunkenness and from shooting at someone. “Blood,” “deadly,” “life and death,” “like to strike,” “poisoning,”
Religious Issues: 2/5 Some Sacrilege: The above mentioned “There is not God but Sex and [her mother] is its Prophet” statement is a perversion of the Muslim creed “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet.” A character comments “The unfairness of a good God” when talking about how some people get with motion sickness and some don’t. Characters visit the temples of false gods and goddesses of Egypt for tourism purposes, who are named. A mother and son are Catholic, and this is shown in their owning of a rosary. A character is part of the Church of England. A character mentions that she met her friend were once in a convent. Luck is briefly mentioned, as well as being lucky or unlucky. A man exclaims “ye gods.” “Devil” and “hypnotic” are used for descriptive purposes.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: A woman in one scene is implied to be drunk and is eventually not only to have been drunk in that scene, but also to be a drunkard from depression. In another scene, a woman is near drunk and is accused of being so. It mentions a woman poured wine overboard. It is mentioned that a man was almost married a girl while he was already legally married to someone else who had left him but never terminated the marriage. Characters gossip about people getting a divorce and getting arrested for drunk driving. Characters drink or mention beer, chartreuse, crème de menthe, gin, liqueur, rum, whiskey, and wine, and it is mentioned that a character was in a bar. There are card rooms, and characters play card games. Characters are mentioned to dance. Characters smoke cigarettes and pipes. A man’s room has “communist literature.” “Wine” “drugged” are used for descriptive purposes. Saturday Evening Post, Erewhon, and Pepy’s Diary are mentioned.
Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: For the sexual conversations and cursing, I would recommend this book to teenagers fifteen to eighteen and older.