When I mentioned I was having somewhat of a rough time reading wise recently Claire suggested that I either turn to Mitford or Christie (wise words indeed) I actually went for ‘The Graveyard Book’ but then when another slump hit almost instantly after I pulled down on of Dame Agatha’s lesser known novels ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’. It amazes me that people can be rather snobbish about Agatha Christie’s writing because she always, well so far, comes up trumps… even with her lesser known works it now appears. (Oh and mini-fact for you I collect these old Fontana editions of Christies books, I just love the covers.)
I specifically chose ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’ as my latest Christie read, and I have a fair few, because it was one I know I have never seen on the telly (though I have heard that it became a Marple TV show despite her not being in the book at all?!?) and so as I opened the book I genuinely had no idea what I was going to be greeted by. When I started reading about golf I thought ‘oh no Agatha’ (I should have guessed from the cover – I know!) but four pages later, or a chapter in Christie terms, Bobby the golfer in question has discovered a body at the bottom of the cliff when his ball goes AWOL. As he waits with the body, his friend having gone to get the police, the man who is not quite dead mutters ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’ before taking his last breath.
This is dismissed as a tragic accident however after Bobby’s friend Lady Frances Derwent (or ‘Frankie’) reminds him of the words he lets the deceased’s family know. Soon after strange things start to happen such as mysterious job offers in Buenos Aires and even Bobby being poisoned and so Frankie and Bobby decide to play sleuths leading them into a dark mystery involving the 1930’s upper classes, dark Granges and sinister nursing homes. I will say no more as I don’t want to spoil the utter pleasure this book is to read to get to the final solution (which I didn’t guess). I will say it’s absolutely brilliant stuff; I could barely put it down.
Some people have said this was a ‘light hearted romp’ in Christie’s career and there is a feeling of an adult ‘Famous Five adventure’ about it, well more a slightly hapless duo in this case. Don’t let that stop you reading it though because the characters are superb (especially the wonderful head strong Frankie who calls someone a b*tch within seconds of being gracing a page with her presence) the plot has lots of twists and there are more red herrings that you could find at a fishmongers. Oh and Christie very cleverly and wryly shows you just how easy it was to work it out, even though it’s unlikely you will – seriously, in the final chapters as the lead characters discuss it. This could be my favourite Christie yet! I am quite disappointed that this isn’t the first in a series as I could read much, much more of Frankie and Bobby. 9/10 (And I don’t care if you judge me on giving a Christie a 9, with this book she deserves it!)
Has anyone else read this, or have you never heard of it? Where do you stand on Christie? Is she a cosy writer or a plotting mastermind in your opinion? Which is your favourite (no spoilers though please) of her works?