A psychological thriller as much as a mystery.
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.
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Poirot overhears a line of conversation out of his hotel windown in Jerusulam: "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?". He doesn't know who is speaking, or who they are with, but he has a feeling that he will recognise the voice if he hears it again.
The story centres around an American family, the Boyntons, who are holidaying in the Near East. Also in the same hotel in Jerusalem is the inquisitive British medical student Miss King, and the renowned psychologist Dr Gerrard. These two become acquainted over their interest in discussing the psychological abnormalities of the Boynton family. Head of the family is the wickedly memorable Mrs Boynton whose sadistic control of her family gives no small motive in their wanting her dead. We are left in suspense as to if they will manage to kill her, when it will happen, where, and who will steel themselves to do it. Each member of the family is different psychologically speaking, with a couple of them being of particular interest.
It is not at all obvious even to the dénouement who does the crime, which keeps up a decent level of suspense throughout. The psychological themes are integral to the plot and suspense, and very well done. Overall this is a very readable novel with some keen observations of human behaviour and a good rendering of the local atmosphere.
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