SPARKLING CYANIDE by Agatha Christie
originally published in 1944
Sparkling Cyanide was my fifth Agatha Christie, and my fifth time being absolutely blown away by how well crafted her mysteries are. The novel begins with Iris Marle looking back on a dinner party which had resulted in the death of her sister Rosemary, whose champagne had been poisoned with cyanide. Though it had been initially ruled as a suicide, Rosemary’s husband, George, becomes convinced that Rosemary had been murdered – which means the culprit was necessarily one of the six guests in attendance that night.
Interestingly, the question of who could possibly have poisoned beautiful, well-liked, friendly Rosemary is quickly answered – it turns out that each of the guests in turn had their own motive. So instead the question becomes: who actually did it? It was refreshing that Christie’s approach here was to rule out several potential culprits, rather than spending the majority of the novel searching for motive.
As always with Christie, I found myself doubting my predictions at every twist and turn. The person I settled on about 65% into the book did end up bring the right one, but I’m still waiting for the day I read one of her books and can choose the murderer early on with a certain amount of confidence. Her plots are too layered and her characters too well-rounded for the kind of easy predictability you get in a lot of contemporary thrillers. As with the other four Christie novels I’ve read, Sparkling Cyanide was a quick, entertaining, clever read that I enjoyed immensely.