Friday, August 3, 2018

Agatha Christie - Ordeal by Innocence

Recovering from amnesia, Dr. Arthur Calgary discovers that he alone could have provided an alibi in a scandalous murder trial. It ended in the conviction of Jacko Argyle. The victim was Jacko's own mother, and to make matters worse, he died in prison. But the young man's innocence means that someone else killed the Argyle matriarch, and would certainly kill again to remain in the shadows. Shaded in the moral ambiguity of murder, the provocative psychological puzzler of guilt, vengeance, and blood secrets is among Agatha Christie's personal favorites.

Comment: Just a shorter comment about this title by Agatha Christe, an author I quite appreciate. This book is one of those where the investigation isn't led by any specific character (like the Hercule Poirot collection or Miss Marple) but we still have quite an intrigue.

In this story we follow the story of a family whose matriarch was murdered. For a long time, everyone thought the killer had been her youngest son, Jacko. However, when the story begins, we realize there was a witness giving the killer an alibi but now Jacko is dead and his family feels knowing this only brings out problems. The reality is that, since Jacko is dead, it can only mean the real killer is someone else in the family as they were the only ones in contact with the victim the day she died...

I liked this story because the intrigue was well done, although when it comes to complexity, there are books that are stronger in that regard. When the mystery is solved, it's quite easy and obvious, unlike others where the plot took unexpected turns.

As always, the fun part is the character analysis. All characters have a bit of motivation for the crime and for not having done it. The real killer has a more psychological reason to kill than financial - very often the reason why a death happens - but it's fascinating to imagine how someone can be led by several reasons to the point of actually committing the crime.
We, the reader, are taken through many rel clues and red herrings but there is always some little detail that just can't make it too obvious.

The relationship between the characters is an element on itself. The man behind all the changes recovers from an accident which didn't allow him to testify on time, much less in a way that would exonerate Jacko even if everyone liked he was considered guilty since he just fit that role well. But of course we know appearances can be deceiving.
We also have many clues about the characters' personal lives and choices. I think the author was an amazing characterizer and her characters always seemed very complex, especially if we aren't supposed to think much of them. I do like these mysteries for their deceiving simplicity and old school settings, not unlike some weird contemporary stories that exaggerate everything.

All things considered, not my favorite (nor her best I'd say) but still very entertaining.
I'm looking for to read more of Agatha Christie books besides the ones I already read and thankfully she has a great collection.
Grade: 7/10

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