Book of the Week #14:

Sparkling Cyanide,

by Agatha Christie

Six people were thinking of Rosemary Barton who had died nearly a year ago…

With that simple sentence began the first Agatha Christie book I ever read.

Not to be confused with the first Agatha Christie book I ever owned

And considering that I have read and loved half the books by this lady, who wrote almost a hundred books, if you count the collections of short-stories and plays, and the autobiographical works, it should be no surprise that she features twice in this list within three months.

First thing you need to know about this book is, while I may have loved it, my sister absolutely hated it… But as I mentioned in the earlier post, there is a simple reason for it. She hates to lose, and Agatha Christie usually doesn’t let you win…

The second thing you need to know is that this book is a veritable “How To” guide for people who want to get themselves killed…

Seriously, one of the direct consequences of reading too many murder mysteries is that you tend to look at the entire world as potential murders and their potential victims. As stated in another of her books, given the right motivation, anybody is capable of murder.

The third, and perhaps the most important, thing you need to know is that this book is actually based on one of her earlier short-stories, so it does not come as a shock that the book is a little short on the plot, and focuses more on exploration of the characters. Really, the entire plot could be summarised in 50 words…

Agatha Christie is, in general, excellent at creating characters of great depth, and this is no exception. Some have even grumbled about the fact that she spends far too long exploring her characters and her settings, and that is the reason why I prefer her books over those by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Now, as a writer, that is the thing that fascinates me most in this book, especially the first part, wherein six characters remember Rosemary, and the events leading up to her death… And I say death, because whether it is murder, suicide or accident, that is for you to find you upon completion of the book…

Here, we get to see six different, but equally believable, perspectives of a single character, and the subtle variation in the tones of the six narratives really lets you see the many shades of the same character.

The actual method of murder is among the most simple, and also the most ingenious, I have ever read. I actually did try to replicate it, once, although with sugar, not cyanide, and I can personally guarantee that it works, that too with minimal preparation.

Really, the hard part, in this day and age, should be the acquisition of cyanide, because administering it is the easy part, and someone might eventually end up writing a “How To” guide for potential murderers…

Now, to whom is the book recommended, and to whom it is not:

  • If your significant other has a younger sibling, do not recommend them this book. One of them might kill you…
  • If you are cheating one your significant other with a boring, intelligent, married person, do not recommend any of them this book. Any one of those may kill you, or each other…
  • If you are secretly in love with your secretary, or of your secretary is in love with you, do not recommend them this book… Even if nobody dies, someone might get fired…

Really, just do not recommend this book to anybody who might have a motive to kill you, because they just might choose to take the opportunity…

And, you can find the book here:

Well, I suppose that is all, for now…

Thank you…

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Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

2 thoughts on “Book of the Week #14:”

  1. Aside from her characters, I also love Christie’s sense of place – she was such an accurate recorder of the world around at that moment in time. About time I re-read a few again, thanks for reminding me!

    Liked by 1 person

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