by Agatha Christie
Publication Date: September 1, 1934
Project: appointment with agatha
When Bobby Jones found a dying man at the foot of a Cliff beside a golf course, he stood in the shadow of his own Death.
But Bobby was lucky - lucky to escape being poisoned, and lucky to have the Quick-witted Frankie, otherwise Lady Frances Derwant, to help find the would-be murder,
Their only clues - a photograph and the dead man's last Words : Why didn't they ask Evans??
Back in 2019, when I was finishing up my Agatha Christie mystery project, I kept this one back so I could read it last. February 23, 2019 was the day that I finished it, and I remember being really happy that it was my final mystery. If I tried to describe this book in one word, that word would be charming.
This is a relatively early Christie – published in 1934 – as she moves into the period during which she will publish her best known and most beloved books. Murder on the Orient Express is the book that directly follows this one, and it is preceded by Lord Edgware Dies, which isn’t up to the standard of MotOE, but is still quite a good Christie. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? was also published under the title The Boomerang Clue, and my paperback copy uses that title.
I was meant to read this book last November, as part of the Appointment with Agatha GR group, but, at the time, I just didn’t have the time to get to it. When I saw that the new Hugh Laurie adaptation was getting ready to drop for US viewers, I decided that I really needed to revisit it. I also convinced my daughter to read it, and we plan to watch the adaptation together soon. Maybe even as soon as tomorrow, but maybe not until next weekend, depending on where she is in the book.
This is just a post about the book, but a quick word about the trailer for the adaptation – it’s available on YouTube and it looks completely, again, charming. Will Poulter has been a favorite actor of mine since his turn as Eustace Scrubb in the not-particularly-good-nor-successful adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The movie was mediocre at best, but he was terrific. He was also really good in Dopesick as the pharmaceutical rep who finds his conscience. I also really like Lucy Boynton – I thought she was really good in both Bohemian Rhapsody and the Branah version of MotOE. If they have any chemistry at all, the casting looks to me to be about perfect.
Back to the book, though. I remember being surprised when I read it because I mentally had it placed in the 1950’s in Christie’s oevre, and this is definitely early 1930’s Christie. Frankie and Bobby are delightful – similar to Tommy and Tuppence in many ways, and also reminiscent of Bundle Brent and Anne Beddingfeld. The mystery itself is mundane – this is just a vehicle for the two protagonists to spend time together and to careen madly across a British countryside. It recaps some of the social issues that we see in this Christie era. Bobby has been released from the Navy and is at a loose end in a country with high unemployment and poor prospects from men of his class and experience. Frankie is the daughter of an earl, but isn’t all that interested in the young men of her class, and is much more invested in the idea of adventure. And Bobby. This book has one of her more delightful romantic subplots.
Basically, come for the mystery, stay for the charm.