Judge a Book by It’s Cover! Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

It may come as no surprise to you that there are indeed works by Agatha Christie that I do not own and have never read.

Unless you know that I have a dog named Agatha Christie.

Tis I! The famous best-selling mystery author!

Reasoning goes I should have all the books and know all the things when it comes to my favorite Dame. But when I happened on Amazon’s Ordeal by Innocence starring Bill Nighy, it turned out there were depths of the mystery maven’s vast bibliography that I had yet to plumb.

It could be I have read the novel before, but I certainly didn’t own it. I went through a teenage phase where I vacuumed up any Christie novel I could find. The plot lacks any of Christie’s classic sleuths, though it does rank as one of her two favorite novels, according to Wikipedia (the other is Crooked House, which is one of my favorites.)

As with many of Christie’s novels, including Crooked House, it revolves around murder within a family, where every family member becomes a suspect as old demons are summoned forth.

An enjoyable little novel, if not quite as memorable as some of her others; the characters lack the bite and nastiness of other Christie family feuds, and the wet noodle “investigative” character doesn’t exactly earn the brains theoretically housed in that sad skull.

But, you know. I will never not recommend an Agatha Christie novel.

The Amazon limited series updates the story by making explicit what is implied in the story (and adding curse words, for verisimilitude.) It injects the simmering family tensions missing from the book and even changes the culprit, so there’s no spoiling the surprise if you read or watch first.

But enough about the book. Let’s talk about the cover!

The version I was lucky to find on Thriftbooks was a 1977 13th issue impression by Fontana books. It appears the books published by Fontana in that era had warped Nancy Drew/old-timey romance novel artwork, nearly always with people on the cover, all of them with significant creases of consternation between their eyebrows.

My edition was much more bizarre.


I mean, Hitchcock would be proud, but what does a dove bullying a crow have to do with a murder mystery? Especially a murder mystery that doesn’t have a single bird in it.

First of all, Dove, what did that poor crow ever do to you? Aren’t doves supposed to be symbols of peace? And why does the moon look like a dried medallion of bird poop?

At first glance, this is one of those avant-garde symbolic nonsense covers that is designed to attract attention (duh, that’s the point!) and capitalize on some poor fool’s ornithophobia. But one you make it to the end of the book, to the big (rushed) reveal, it does make some sense. Not all the sense. Just some. 

I mean, will we ever know what’s up with that gross moon?

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