Title: Ordeal by Innocence
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication date: 2003
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
According to the courts, Jacko Argyle bludgeoned his mother to death with a poker. The sentence was life imprisonment.
But when Dr Arthur Calgary arrives with the proof that confirms Jacko’s innocence, it is too late – Jacko died behind bars following a bout of pneumonia. Worse still, the doctor’s revelations re-open old wounds in the family, increasing the likelihood that the real murderer could strike again…..
Reading these few lines was enough for me to know that it’s going to be a great read – I fell in love with it in an instant, picked it up and came home, eager to start reading it. At two in the morning, exhausted from sleep deprivation and reading for such a long time, I simply couldn’t put it down. And I was right – Ordeal by Innocence is pure brilliance.
I don’t usually like books that don’t feature either Poirot or Marple but it was an exception. What’s more, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if it featured one of them. It was just perfect the way it was written, without any detectives.
It’s quite hard to talk about Christie’s novels without giving too much away but believe me, it’s a marvellously written story. It’s similar to some of her other books in that there’s a house full of suspects and they all know one of them did it but still, this time it’s a bit different. Mainly because it’s not a real family – the five children were all adopted, therefore they’re all different. As Mr. Argyle put it, you can’t predict what’s going on in their minds because they’re not your own, they’re not like you. In addition to this, Ordeal by Innocence is said to be one of Christie’s darkest novels for a reason – it focuses very strongly on psychology. One of the most powerful lines for me was “It’s not the guilty who matter. It’s the innocent.“
The characters aren’t particularly likeable but there’s no doubt about them being a queer lot. My personal favourite was Philip Durrant – an ex-pilot who was afflicted with polio of the paralytic type and became an invalid. Even though he can’t move around as much as he’d like to, I think he played an important part in the novel – he was an invalid, but he was very strong mentally.
Ordeal by Innocence is another masterpiece from the Queen of Crime. It doesn’t matter how many whodunnits you’ve read before, Christie will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole story and keeps you guessing until the very end. I’d definitely recommend it to everyone who likes a good mystery.