In this classic Agatha Christie mystery, Hercule Poirot observes a young couple at a restaurant in London and thinks their behavior indicates that the woman loves the man too much. A few months later he meets them again in Egypt, but the man, Simon Doyle, has married the woman’s rich friend Linnet. The first woman, Jacqueline de Bellefort, is haunting their every move during their honeymoon. Poirot thinks no good can come of it and tries to tell Jackie to leave the Doyles alone.
The Doyles sign on for the same Nile river cruise as Poirot. To their fury, Jackie appears on board. Also on board is Poirot’s friend Colonel Race. Race is hunting a criminal who has murdered several people. He believes the person is on board, but has not been able to identify him.
On a tour of some ancient ruins, a boulder falls, nearly missing Linnet and Simon. The obvious suspect is Jackie, but she was on the boat the entire time.
That evening, the drunken Jackie makes a scene in the lounge and then shoots Simon in the leg. The next morning Linnet is dead from a gunshot wound, but both Simon and Jackie seem to have solid alibis. The nurse was with Jackie all night, and Simon was incapacitated with his injury. Poirot and Colonel Race begin looking into other enemies that Linnet may have had.
I think Agatha Christie is the best of the “Golden Era” mystery writers at characterization. She quickly sketches convincing and sympathetic characters. Sometimes you even sympathize with the murderer. Her books are also often set in exotic locations and give you a flavor of a certain place and time. I always find Christie’s mysteries to be enjoyable, and they make fun beach reading.