Whenever I travel to a new place, I love reading a book about the locale. It helps bring a new life to the city and culture I am experiencing. So of course, I turned to the queen of mystery for a throwback look at the Petra in Jordan in the Appointment with Death.
In the 19th book of the Hercule Poirot series, an assorted group of travelers are staying at a Jerusalem hotel: Lady Westholme and her companion, a young English doctor and her French colleague, a debonair American and a pugnacious Lancashire man. Another guest, Mrs. Boynton, is a domineering American invalid with four stepchildren with a facade of devotion.
Suddenly among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs. Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs. Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.
Agatha Christie Discussion Guide
First published in 1938, this book is one in a series involving Hercule Poirot. Have you read any others in this series?
For me, it was wild to wander through Petra in 2023 knowing this was the same place visited in the novel in the 1930s. I know archeologists visited the site in earnest in 1929 and now almost 100 years later we are still exploring Petra. What do you think about Agatha Christie’s global locations? Are there any places she writes about that you want to visit yourself?
What did you think of Mrs. Boynton’s desire for control? How do you think you would have responded to the same treatment?
My favorite question for a mystery thriller -- did you actually know who the murderer was beforehand?