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[321] Sparkling Cyanide – Agatha Christie

” If thoughts could kill, she would have killed her. ” [5:82]

Halloween creep continues with this moody mystery. Although this is not among Christie’s most memorable work, Sparkling Cyanide is a solid piece of mystery that delves in a favorite theme if hers: a curious death in the past that was murder disguised as a suicide. It arouses suspicion and causes taut nerves. The victim is Rosemary Barton, a beautiful heiress and wife to George Barton who took her own life during a birthday dinner in her honor. With the passage of time George Barton becomes very suspicious and determines, upon receiving two anonymous letters informing her that Rosemary’s death indeed was murder, to re-stage the dinner party, at the Luxembourg Restaurant, with a keen eye toward unveiling the truth.

George Barton drinks champagne and goes and dances. He comes back, drinks from the same glass that no one has touched and hey, presto, it’s full of cyanide. [15:170]

The result of the party is one more succumbing to cyanide—George Barton himself. Christie limits the field of suspects to those actually present at the table: Barton’s secretary Ruth Lessing, his young sister-in-law Iris Merle, a MP Stephen Farraday and his wife Sandra. It soon transpires that virtually everyone present has a motive for Rosemary’s murder, and would have a motive to kill again. Is it the secretary who has a crush on George and hates Rosemary? Or perhaps the sister who will inherit a fortune upon her sister’s death? How about the illicit lover whose career could be ruined by the scandal? Or his wife who kills to save her marriage? Sparkling Cyanide is very romantically and emotionally laced, as each guest at the dinner table remembers Rosemary with a misgiving. The denouement will come as a surprise to most but the very hardcore Christie fans.

278 pp. Mass Paperback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

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12 Responses

  1. I’ve not even heard of this Christie title, but I will add it to my wishlist. I read a similar sort of mystery last spring by Mignon Eberhart where a woman whose father was murdered in the family lodge during a shooting party (it was deemed an accident at the time) calls all the people back for another party to try and figure out who really killed him. I enjoyed it and I think I’d like the Christie, too.

  2. Another one to add to my must read list for next year!

  3. Thanks. A new one from an author I love. And, as usual, a “sparkling” review.

  4. I read this one recently as well and I really enjoyed it, although I agree it isn’t one of the best.

    DId you know Christie called it Remebered Death originally?

    Here is my review
    http://www.pageturnersbooks.org/2010/09/sparkling-cyanide-agatha-christie.html

    • No, I didn’t know until after I finished the book. I really enjoyed how Christie has a full characterization of each person who has a motive to kill.

  5. There is nothing like a good Christie mystery. Thank you for the review 🙂

  6. Absolutely love Agatha Christie! What a perfect way to prepare for Halloween. Fall seems like the perfect time of year to read an Agatha Christie novel. I haven’t read this one and will definitely have to check it out! Thanks!

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