Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Different Kind of Evil (Agatha Christie #2), by Andrew Wilson

Atria Books, ISBN 9781501145094, March 2018

Following the death of her mother, the collapse of her marriage to Archie Christie, and her sensational disappearance for two weeks, Agatha Christie is now on a trip to Tenerife, officially for rest and recovery, and to finish her latest book. The Mystery of the Blue Train.

Unofficially, she is travelling at the behest of British Special Agent Davison, to investigate the death of another intelligence officer, Douglas Greene. Greene was found dead in a cave, drained of his blood and partially mummified. She is not to take any risks. She is only gathering information. Davison will also be there, under an assumed name.

What could possibly go wrong?

Things start going wrong while she's still on the ship carrying her there. A young woman, apparently the wife of another passenger, flees from her husband's mistress, goes to the stern of the liner, and leaps over the side, while Agatha and the husband's mistress, sculptor Helen Harte, watch, unable to stop her. Less catastrophically, there are also two absolute bores among the passengers, a woman who can't stop talking about her experiences on the Titanic, and a man who is going to revolutionize literature by writing down every single thing he sees and hears.

Once in Tenerife, she soon encounters George Grenville, an rather sinister-seeming occultist along the lines of Aleister Crowley; his very subdued daughter, Violet; Violet's beloved, but unfortunately dying of tuberculosis, Edward Ffosse; and other hotel guests and local English residents.

She also discovers that no one and nothing is as it seems, starting with Davison, who has his own huge secret connected to Douglas Greene. Her knowledge of poisons becomes highly relevant, when tiresome would-be literary giant Howard Winniatt is found dead. Grenville has extensive garden of poisonous plants, and library well-stocked with tomes on the subject, and...there's something about Winniatt's death that is disturbingly similar to the suicide of Gina Trevalyan, on the ship to Tenerife.

As she struggles to put together all the facts, and figure out what vital clues she's overlooking, her fellow guests on the island seem stranger and stranger--and she herself becomes both a target and a suspect.

It's nicely intriguing, and this is a "playing fair" mystery, where the reader does have all the clues.

An enjoyable read. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, and I am reviewing it voluntarily.

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