I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
When nurse Amy Leatheran agrees to look after American archaeologist Dr Leidner’s wife Louise at a dig near Hassanieh she finds herself taking on more than just nursing duties – she also has to help solve murders. Fortunately for Amy, Hercule Poirot is visiting the excavation site but will the great detective be in time to prevent a multiple murderer from striking again?
***2018 Summer of Spies***
It must have been the exotic location of Afghanistan, but this Hercule Poirot mystery really made me think about M.M. Kaye’s series of mysteries, set in similarly foreign settings. Last summer, I read both Death in Zanzibar and Death in Cyprus, and I have a feeling that Murder in Mesopotamia may have been one of the influences on Kaye. Perhaps it was the English nurse as narrator—an Englishwoman in an alien environment, applying her standards of judgement to the events (and to Hercule Poirot as investigator).
The solution to the crime was suitably obscure. Christie fools me more often than any other mystery writer that I’ve encountered so far. She is expert at the art of misdirection!
Christie portrays the archaeological setting so accurately—the reader can tell that she went to many dig sites with her second husband. She gets the surroundings, the finds, the group dynamics, etc. just right. You can taste the dust and feel the heat as you read.
I could also appreciate her confidence as a writer. This is a Poirot mystery, but the man himself doesn’t appear until well into the book and we see him only through the eyes of Nurse Leatheran. Altogether a very skillfully assembled mystery story, perfect for summer reading.