I read this mystery fairly soon before beginning my quest to read all of Christie's mysteries in publication order, so when it came up again I wasn't terribly excited. I remember exactly who the murderer was, I remembered exactly how the murder was accomplished, and I even remembered most of the ancillary characters fairly well, including the primary red herring.
But from the first instants of Nurse Leatheran's narrative, I was glad I didn't skip it. Unlike Hastings, Nurse Leatheran is a real person from the instant she steps onto the stage, and that makes her a much more interesting narrator than Hastings ever was. She was always a character, rather than a caricature.
All of the other characters are well-drawn in this mystery as well. Yes, as always with Christie, Poirot can sum them up in a few sentences -- but those sentences were interesting ones for most of the people involved. No one's motives were exactly as the reader is led to assume, and the twist in the resolution is a fine one.
All in all, this is definitely one of the strongest Poirot mysteries. All it lacks is a little of the emotional punch that Christie developed later on in her career -- given that I might have considered it the equal of The Hollow.
The setting is in the Middle East; this time in that post-WW I abomination fostered by BritainIraq. The story is set at a remote archeological dig, and proceeds just about as slowly. It takes nearly 60 pages just to get to the murder. This is a wearisome case for Poirot as there is no clear suspect for another 100 pages. But now, following another murder and a disappearance, he jumps quickly to the chase. The unmasking of the perpetrator is just about as tedious for the reader.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
Nurse Amy Leatheran is recruited to care for Louise Leidner, the terrified wife of an American archeologist at an excavation in the Iraqi desert. Louise thinks that someone is going to kill her, and her paranoia soon unsettles the entire dig. Are her fears mere hallucinations? The answer comes when she's found bludgeoned to death. Nurse Leatheran enlists the aid of Hercule Poirot, who quickly suspects every member of the team. Can the dapper detective stop the murderer before the next tragedy? Anna Massey's authoritative reading brings out the drama and humor in Christie's popular whodunit.
Very entertaining, and kept me guessing until the end. I would have liked a little more cultural detail, but it really wasn't necessary. Written through the voice of Nurse Weatheran, an objective observer. A quick read!
Linda C. (Seagull) reviewed Murder in Mesopotamia (Hercule Poirot, Bk 14) on
"I have arrived," said the note. Louise Leidner claimed the writer had followed her halfway around the world and was now coming to kill her. But the others on the dig in Iraq thought the archeologist's wife was suffering from hysteria...until she was found bludgeoned in her bedroom. Local police, baffled by the variety of suspects, each with a motive, call on the assistance of a Belgian detective of some renown who is on his way to Baghdad--Hercule Poirot. (back cover)
Louise Leidner claims someone has followed her halfway around the world to kill her. But the other archeologist's think she is just suffering from hysteria. Baghdad bound Poirot must solve the mystery when she is murdered.