Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 356
Death on the Nile is one of a series of novels that feature the Belgian master-detective Hercule Poirot. One of Agatha Christie's principal creations (along with the British amateur sleuth Jane Marple), Poirot is a sophisticated, meticulous, and fussy Continental gentleman to whom people—especially damsels in distress—turn to when they do not know where else to go. Using his superior powers of observation and keen analysis of evidence (reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes), Poirot solves cases that baffle the police.
In this novel, however, Poirot is off-duty. He is intent on enjoying a vacation in Egypt, where he expects to learn about archaeology. This much-deserved break is not meant to be, however. When a murder occurs, it falls to Poirot to solve it. The dead woman is the recently married Linnet Ridgeway, and suspicion immediately falls on her new husband, Simon Doyle, and his former fiancée, Jacqueline de Bellefort. Despite the fact that Jacqueline later shoots Simon, Poirot does not believe this was an accident; he sees it as a ruse to deflect suspicion from the fact that they are working together.
Using an effective mystery convention, Christie presents an array of characters in a confined setting; (similar to the device that she used in Murder on the Orient Express—another Poirot mystery—where all the characters were on a train) in this case, they are all on a boat cruising down the Nile. Additionally, there are multiple murders: there is a second killing and then a third. Just as Poirot is about to question a possible witness—Linnet's maid, Louise Bourget—she is murdered. A novelist, who is interest in writing about the famed detective, befriends Poirot. However, he is also found dead. The boat now seems plagued by a serial killer. Who, if anyone, can be trusted?
While Simon seems to be the logical suspect, the question remains whether or not a single person is responsible for this spree: are there several killers? Ultimately, it is Poirot's insightful mind and sharp attention to detail that solve the mystery—however, his friend Colonel Race is on hand to provide intellectual and moral support.
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