Book Review: Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (1940)

Synopsis: The young and beautiful Mary Gerrard is dead from morphine poisoning and authorities blame Elinor Carlisle, the wealthy heiress with an apparent score to settle against the woman who unwittingly came between her and her fiance.
With Elinor on trial for murder and facing certain conviction, Hercule Poirot is asked to conduct an independent investigation for the defense in an effort to find another plausible suspect. He reluctantly agrees and quickly finds every scrap of evidence points toward Elinor's guilt.

Review: I started reading this book about three weeks ago and, since weather and finances kept us from doing anything over Labor Day weekend, was able to finally finish it. Overall, I don't think it was a bad book. But, I'm not sure I liked it as much as some of Agatha Christie's other novels.

On the surface, this book had a great plot. Elinor had plenty of motive for killing Mary and the other woman happened to die of morphine poisoning shortly after eating some sandwiches Mary prepared. And, while Poirot took the time to explore several different scenarios, she kept coming back as the only person with both motive and opportunity to commit the crime, especially since it seemed like Mary was loved by just about everyone else who knew her.

That being said, I was actually able to pick out the real killer and that person's motive about halfway through the book thanks largely to Christie making a rare error and tipping her hat way too early in regards to Mary's lineage. Once I knew the truth about her father, it wasn't too hard to figure out the rest of it.

In fact, normally when I read a Christie book, I'll develop a theory (usually right) but will second guess it at some point. That just didn't happen this time around because, while there were some that might have a possible motive, the chances of them sneaking into the house and poisoning the sandwiches was pretty slim and it was obvious they were red herrings.

As a result of all of this, I kept hoping for a surprise twist that would throw my theory in doubt or reveal an accomplice I didn't know about but it never came. So, while the book was still enjoyable to read, it didn't have the same magic for me as some of the ones I've read previously.

Final Opinion: The book does have an interesting mystery and some memorable characters so, if you are fortunate enough not to figure out who the killer is halfway through, you will probably enjoy it more than I did. Unfortunately, for me personally, it fell short of what I was expecting.

My Grade: C


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