Title: Ordeal by Innocence
Author: Agatha Christie
“That was the trouble with people who had no legal sense of discretion. They insisted on saying things which were much better not said.”
Ordeal by Innocence was recommended to me by a friend, and I have wanted to read some of Agatha Christie’s work for a while so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I am an easily scared person, so I was glad that, because my friend had already read it, I knew this wasn’t going to be one of Christie’s more gruesome or chilling reads. The novel centres on the Argyle family, one of whom, Jack, was accused and imprisoned for the murder of his mother a few years earlier. He always maintained his innocence, but died in prison without being able to prove it. This novel begins with Dr. Arthur Calgary providing an alibi for Jack. But while some of the family insist that because he’s dead, they should just let it lie, others of them realise, that if Jack wasn’t the murderer, then the culprit still remains among them.
I love a whodunnit so the book was an easy read just because I was so eager to find out who the murderer was. The writing was quite old-fashioned, but I liked the focus on the individual characters and how their role fitted in with the rest of the family.
I also loved how complex the situation was – while the family were intrigued about Dr Calgary and what he had to say about Jack, most of the family weren’t really interested in the murderer being anyone else but him. Their refusal to believe the truth, even when confronted with it, showed more about how they’d rather save face than see justice served.
The problem with the plot was that it was just a little predictable. I won’t spoil it, but Christie basically makes everyone seem suspicious to the point where it’s not very satisfying when you do find out because you were suspecting them anyway. I did like how everybody was a little suspicious, but as I said, it would have been more satisfying if I’d had no idea who the murderer was.
Don’t get me wrong, the book was great, and I definitely want to read more of her work. As long as you can see past some antiquated turns of phases, then there’s no reason this book can’t be as enjoyable as it was 60 years ago. I would recommend it for anyone who likes mysteries, (especially if you don’t have a strong stomach like me!) and also for anyone looking for a timeless classic which is fast-paced and easy-to-read. Although, fingers crossed, some of her other books will be less predictable!