Evil Under the Sun

Evil Under the Sun

infobox Book |
name = Evil Under the Sun
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition
author = Agatha Christie
cover_artist = Rose
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Crime novel
publisher = Collins Crime Club
release_date = June 1941
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 256 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = NA
preceded_by = One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
followed_by = N or M?

"Evil Under the Sun" is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in June 1941Chris Peers, Ralph Spurrier and Jamie Sturgeon. "Collins Crime Club – A checklist of First Editions". Dragonby Press (Second Edition) March 1999 (Page 15)] and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in October of the same year [http://home.insightbb.com/~jsmarcum/agatha40.htm American Tribute to Agatha Christie] ] . The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $2.00.

Plot introduction

A quiet holiday at a secluded hotel in Devon is all that Hercule Poirot wants, but amongst his fellow guests is a beautiful and vain woman who, seemingly oblivious to her own husband’s feelings, revels in the attention of another woman’s husband. The scene is set for murder, but can the field of suspects really be as narrow as it first appears?

Plot summary

(Although this novel is not counted amongst the novels featuring him, Hastings makes a cameo appearance in about ten lines of chapter 2, discussing the case with Poirot at a later date.)

Arlena is a very beautiful retired actress. Who is in love with her fat self. She is a flirtatious young bride. They went to the Jolly Roger Hotel with her husband Kenneth Marshall and with her stepdaughter, Linda Marshall. Linda hated her very much. Arlena flirted in the hotel in a handsome man named Patrick Redfern. What's wrong is Patrick had a wife named Christine Redfern. In the hotel were also the famous detective Hercule Poirot, the dressmaker Rosamund Darnley, Odell and Carrie Gardener who were American tourists, the retired man Major Barry, the blatant Horace Blatt, the vicar Stephen Lane and the athletic Emily Brewster. she likes to eat insect dipped in chocolate.

At an early time of the morning of the murder, Linda Marshall went to a shop nearby the island to buy a packet of candles and went back to the hotel and when Christine saw Linda holding a parcel and Linda accidentally dropped it, Christine realized that inside the parcel were candles but she doesn't know why Linda bought candles.

On the morning of the murder, Arlena went to float(a kind of boat) and told Poirot not to tell anyone where she is going. In Poirot's mind Arlena is going to meet Patrick Redfern but proves that he is wrong because Patrick had shown up and questioned Poirot if he had seen Arlena.

Patrick asked Emily Brewster to join her in rowing of a boat. Then they began to row until they reached Pixy Cove. But there was a figure there lying, her arms outstretched and her face was hidden by a green Chinese hat. Then they both realized that the dead body, who was strangled, was Arlena. The body was discovered at quarter to 12.

Poirot's attention is paid on a bottle thrown from a window which nearly hit Emily Brewster who was bathing and a bath being run at 12:00 noon.

Before the murder, Christine Redfern and Linda Marshall went to Gull Cove and Christine went back to the hotel at about quarter to 12(Christine asked Linda the time and Christine wandered how the time had gone fast). Rosamund also claims that she was in the Sunny Ledge which is above the Pixy Cove with a ladder in it going down to the Pixy Cove.

Much attention is paid to the alibi of Kenneth Marshall, who claims to have been typing letters at the time of the murder. He has been heard, but the main corroboration comes from Rosamund Darnley, who claims to have entered the hotel and seen him, although not interrupted his work. When Kenneth confirms that he did see Rosamund enter the room, there is a suspicion that the two may have contrived the alibi. Perhaps the two were working together.

While investigating/interviewing the suspects, one of them, Christine told them that she heard that Arlena was being blackmailed by a man. Poirot said it is possible that the motive is blackmail. Meanwhile, when the investigating officers went to the Pixy Cove to investigate the place, they found a pair of new scissors, a fragment of pipe and a bottle. The pipe could be Kenneth's because he told the investigating officers and Poirot that he had mislaid his pipe somewhere. They went into the Pixy's Cave and found a drug and later said that it is a drug called heroine. Meanwhile they thought Horace Blatt has something to do with the dope smuggling of drugs or to do something with the murder.

Kenneth’s daughter, Linda, has behaved oddly on the morning of the murder, returning early with a package of candles. Poirot finds remains of wax, hair, and cardboard paper in her fireplace. Later she attempts to commit suicide, leaving a note that claims responsibility for the murder, it seems that the case is solved. But Linda did not die after all.

Linda’s guilt is attached, however, to a little experiment with sympathetic magic and a wax doll. The real nature of the murder is far more complex. For Arlena was not the seductress that she first appeared: she was just a woman of strong superficial attractiveness of whom men quickly tired. She was an obvious victim for a manipulative swindler such as Patrick Redfern.

Poirot was also asking about the murder of Alice Corrigan many years ago. Colgate and the other told Poirot that Alice Corrigan was also strangled but her murderer was never caught. Alice's husband Edward Corrigan had also an alibi who claims and proved that he is innocent. Alice's body, many years ago, was found by a school teacher.

In the other hand, Poirot had an idea to go for a picnic, perhaps to make a little test. Christine said earlier that she was afraid of heights. Therefore whoever cross a narrow bridge with running water below, either Emily(who also said that she was afraid of heights) or Christine should be giddy or they should be uncomfortable to cross that bridge. However when they all crossed the bridge, Emily felt giddy and uncomfortable, but Christine crossed the bridge as if she is not afraid of heights and crossed without a qualm. Therefore if Christine told a lie, it's possible that all she said also were lies.

When Poirot revealed the murderer, Patrick and Christine Redfern are working together. The body Emily and Patrick saw in the Pixy Cove was not Arlena but it was Christine(her face was hidden by a green Chinese hat) who was pretending to be dead. Patrick made Emily as a witness. First Christine arranged an outing in the Gull Cove with Linda. Christine altered Linda's clock, putting it on 20 minutes and when Christine asked Linda the time, Linda told her that it was quarter to 12(exact time when Arlena's body was found and made Christine impossible to go down to the ladder to the Pixy Cove and kill her). Then Christine altered Linda's wristwatch again, putting in to the correct time. Christine went back to the hotel to have a suntan to make her skin very brown as Arlena(because she was very white and she will also pretend to be a dead Arlena) and Christine threw the bottle outside her room which nearly hit Emily. After that, Christine went down to the ladder leading to the Pixy Cove and made a sprawling attitude. After a minute or two Patrick and Emily discovered the body and when Emily went to the hotel to fetch the police, Christine springs up, went back to the hotel and had a bath at about 12 noon to wash the suntan. Now Patrick, who was alone in the Pixy Cove, called Arlena who was hiding in the cave and Patrick strangled her. His motive is money.

Patrick's real identity is Edward Corrigan, Alice Corrigan's husband who also killed Alice with the help of game mistress, the school teacher who found the body who was turned out to be Christine.

The only happy ending is that Rosamund and Kenneth are going to be married after six months.

Characters in "Evil Under the Sun"

* Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective
* Colonel Weston, the Chief Constable
* Inspector Colgate, the investigating officer
* Sergeant Phillips, a policeman in the case
* Dr. Neasdon, the police surgeon
* Arlena Stuart Marshall, a former actress and a very beautiful young woman
* Captain Kenneth Marshall, Arlena’s husband
* Linda Marshall, Kenneth’s daughter, and Arlena’s stepdaughter
* Patrick Redfern, Arlena’s lover and Christine's husband
* Christine Redfern, Patrick’s wife, pretty in a washed out way and very "mousy"/silent.
* Rosamund Darnley, a fashionable dressmaker and Kenneth's childhood friend
* Reverend Stephen Lane, a clerical guest who quite openly declares Arlena Marshall the evilest in the land.
* Emily Brewster, an athletic spinster
* Sir Horace Blatt, a yachtsman
* Mrs. Castle, the owner of the "Jolly Roger" Hotel.
* Major Barry, A retired officer who fought in India
* Mrs. Carrie Gardener- A garrulous American tourist
* Mr. Odell Gardener, The husband of Mrs. Gardener who quite obligingly does whatever she says.
* Gladys Narracott, a chambermaid

Literary significance and reception

The verdict by Maurice Willson Disher in "The Times Literary Supplement" of June 14, 1941 was positive: "To maintain a place at the head of detective-writers would be difficult enough without the ever increasing rivalry. Even Miss Christie cannot stay there unchallenged though she has a following which will swear her books are best without reading the others. Unbiased opinion may have given the verdict against her last season when new arrivals set a very hot pace; but "Evil Under the Sun" will take a lot of beating now". After summarising the plot, the Mr. Disher concluded: "Miss Christie casts the shadow of guilt upon first one and then another with such casual ease that it is difficult for the reader not to be led by the nose. Everybody is well aware that any character most strongly indicated is not a likely criminal; yet this guiding principle is forgotten when Miss Christie persuades you that you are more discerning than you really are. Then she springs her secret like a land-mine." ["The Times Literary Supplement" June 14, 1941 (Page 285)]

In "The New York Times Book Review" of October 19, 1941, Isaac Anderson said, "The murder is an elaborately planned affair – a little too much so for credibility, in view of the many possibilities of a slip-up somewhere along the way – but Poirot's reasoning is flawless, as it always is. "Evil Under the Sun" adds another to the already long list of Agatha Christie's successful mystery tales." ["The New York Times Book Review" October 19, 1941 (Page 26)]

Maurice Richardson in a short review in the June 8, 1941 issue of "The Observer" said, "Best Agatha Christie since "Ten Little Niggers" – and one can't say much more than that – "Evil Under the Sun" has luxury summer hotel, closed-circle setting, Poirot in white trousers. Victim: redhead actress man-mad. Smashing solution, after clouds of dust thrown in your eyes, ought to catch you right out. Light as a soufflé." ["The Observer" June 8, 1941 (Page 3)]

"The Scotsman" of July 3, 1941 spoke of the several "surprising discoveries" in the book's solution and said, "All of these the reader may best be left to encounter for himself in the assurance that the quest will prove as piquant as any this skilful writer has offered." ["The Scotsman" July 3, 1941 (Page 7)]

E.R. Punshon in "The Guardian" of August 26, 1941 briefly summed up the plot in a eulogistic piece which began, "Is it going too far to call Mrs. Agatha Christie one of the most remarkable writers of the day?" ["The Guardian" August 26, 1941 (Page 3)]

Robert Barnard: "The classic Christie marital triangle plot set in West Country seaside resort, with particular play on the alikeness of sunbathing bodies, and dead ones. Possibly overingenious and slightly uncharacterised." [Barnard, Robert. "A Talent to Deceive – an appreciation of Agatha Christie - Revised edition" (Page 204). Fontana Books, 1990. ISBN 0006374743]

References to other works

The plot has some similarities to the Christie short story "Triangle at Rhodes", which was first published in the US in "This Week" magazine in February 1936 and in the UK in issue 545 of the "Strand Magazine" in May 1936 and included in the collection "Murder in the Mews" (US title: "Dead Man's Mirror") one year later.

In "Triangle at Rhodes", Poirot again witnesses an apparent liaison between two married people. Again everyone believes that the responsible party is a beautiful and magnetic woman, Valentine Chantry, who is murdered. In "Triangle at Rhodes" the murder is by poison and it is thought that she and her lover have attempted to murder her husband and that the plot has gone wrong, but Poirot reveals that the murder was committed by her husband in cahoots with her apparent lover’s wife, Mrs. Gold.

In both stories, the key twist is that the appearance of the seductress’s power deflects attention from the reality of the situation. In "Triangle at Rhodes", Mrs. Gold says of Valentine Chantry “in spite of her money and her good looks and all […] she’s not the sort of woman men really stick to. She’s the sort of woman, I think, that men would get tired of very easily.” In "Evil under the Sun", Poirot says of Arlena Marshall “She was the type of woman whom men care for easily and of whom they easily tire.”

The character of Colonel Weston had originally appeared in "Peril at End House" and makes reference to that case upon his first appearance, in Chapter 5.

Minor character Mrs. Gardener is herself an admirer of Poirot's exploits and refers to the case of "Death on the Nile" in Chapter 1 of this novel.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

1982 Film

"Evil Under the Sun" was the second film to be made with Peter Ustinov in the role of Poirot after his debut in the part in the 1978 film "Death on the Nile". The setting was moved to a secluded resort frequented by the rich and famous in the Adriatic Sea whilst the action was, in fact, filmed in Majorca, Spain.

Agatha Christie's Poirot

The novel was adapated as an episode in the series "Agatha Christie's Poirot" in 2001 starring David Suchet.

PC Adaptation

On October 17, 2007, The Adventure Company released a PC adaptation of the book. The game starred Kevin Delaney as the voice of Hercule Poirot. This version includes the character of Captain Hastings who does not appear in the book.

Publication history

* 1939, Collins Crime Club (London), June 1941, Hardback, 256 pp
* 1941, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), October 1941, Hardback, 260 pp
* 1945, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback, 183 pp (Pocket number 285)
* 1957, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 189 pp
* 1963, Pan Books, Paperback, 217 pp
* 1971, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 362 pp
* 2008, Poirot Facsimile Edition (Facsimile of 1941 UK First Edition), HarperCollins, April 1, 2008, Hardback, ISBN 0-00-727455-6

The book was first serialised in the US in "Collier's Weekly" in eleven parts from December 14, 1940 (Volume 106, Number 24) to February 22, 1941 (Volume 107, Number 8) with illustrations by Mario Cooper.


External links

* [http://us.agathachristie.com/site/find_a_story/stories/Evil_Under_the_Sun.php "Evil Under the Sun"] at the official Agatha Christie website
*imdb title|id= 0083908|title=Evil Under the Sun (1982)
*imdb title|id= 0276115|title=Evil Under the Sun (2002)
* [http://www.burghisland.com/ Web page for Burgh Island] , the setting of which is used in "Evil Under The Sun" and "And Then There Were None".

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