Name: Death Comes as the End
Author: Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 336 (Kindle)
Published: February 27th 2010 (first published October 1944)
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Historical
In this startling historical mystery, unique in the author’s canon, Agatha Christie presents the puzzle of a deadly mystery at the heart of a dissonant family in ancient Egypt. Imhotep, wealthy landowner and priest of Thebes, has outraged his sons and daughters by bringing a beautiful concubine into their fold. And the manipulative Nofret has already set about a plan to usurp her rivals’ rightful legacies. When her lifeless body is discovered at the foot of a cliff, Imhotep’s own flesh and blood become the apparent conspirators in her shocking murder. But vengeance and greed may not be the only motives…
Following my recent read of Death on the Nile I decided to pick up another Agatha Christie mystery set in Egypt, Death Comes as the End.
The story revolves around the family of Imhotep, and sets a scene of domestic disharmony which is made many times worse upon the arrival of a young woman, Nofret, who has a talent for troublemaking. She knows she has a degree of power, and is confident enough in her position to go about causing discord and unease amongst the siblings and their families without regard for the consequences.
If things were unsettled before Nofret arrived, they were certainly worse afterwards, and more so when head of the family Imhotep goes away on business and leaves Nofret behind, ordering his family to look after her.
The simmering tension and animosity has a violent outcome, and from there the tale takes on an unexpected very slight hint of the supernatural, and one death follows another as someone or something develops a taste for murder.
Renisenb is Imhotep’s daughter. She is recently widowed, has returned home to her family, and is the main viewpoint throughout the story. She goes from suspicion to disbelief to horror as it is suggested that someone amongst her own family might actually be responsible for the awful occurrences. She ponders on characters and personalities, and how what lies within and drives a person may be very different from their outer appearance.
The characters drive this story, from eldest son Yahmose and his strong-willed wife Satipy, to trusted family friend Hori and the newly arrived Kameni. I also really liked Esa, the oldest member of the family, and possibly the most observant. She watches as trouble of various kinds unfolds within the family home and eventually develops some theories of her own as to what is going on.
Death Comes as the End has the familiar feel of a Christie story – a murder steeped in mystery, a number of suspects, an investigation of sorts, although not in the more typical format of a detective’s involvement. In this case it is Renisenb and her thoughts that propel us through the twists and turns.
There’s also something quite different in this story which made it enjoyable. The ancient Egypt setting gives it something of an historical air, and the characters and their lives are quite unique to many that I’ve encountered in my Christie reading so far. Definitely one to consider if you’re looking for something a little different in your Agatha Christie murder mystery reading.