Book Review: Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie


Format: Paperback

Pages: 269 pages

Published: 1958

Publisher: Harper

Genre: Fiction, Mystery & Thriller





Recovering from amnesia, Dr. Arthur Calgary discovers that he alone could have provided an alibi in a scandalous murder trial. It ended in the conviction of Jacko Argyle. The victim was Jacko’s own mother, and to make matters worse, he died in prison. But the young man’s innocence means that someone else killed the Argyle matriarch, and would certainly kill again to remain in the shadows. Shaded in the moral ambiguity of murder, the provocative psychological puzzler of guilt, vengeance, and blood secrets is among Agatha Christie’s personal favorites.


“It’s not the guilty who matter. It’s the innocent.”

And the innocent are the ones who suffer…especially with Dr. Arthur Calgary’s recent revelation. For a long period of time, the Argyle family was content with the fact that constant problem child, Jacko Argyle, was convicted of killing his own mother. Also they are happy that they could put this tragedy behind them since Jacko died in prison. All is well, that is, until Calgary discovers that he can provide Jacko with an alibi for the murder, which means Jacko is innocent. You would think that his family would be ecstatic at the news. But their fear and anxiety only escalates. Because not only does it mean that the killer is still out there…the killer may be one of them.

I can understand why Christie looked to this book as one of her favorites. This riveting mystery, like her other novels, has you guessing on every new turn of a page. More psychology was involved in this novel. I like how Christie gave a back story to each character, broke down their involvement, and managed to give each one of them a possible motive of the crime. Christie just has this gift of surprising you at the best possible moment. At first, you think that you have it all figured out. And then, wham! Here is the actual answer. It is like she is saying to you “Oh, nice try though but here how it really went.”

I love comparing Christie’s novels. For her series, like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, she has a different writing style. She writes one way for her favorite characters and another way when it’s a standalone novel. She style always varies and most readers might find that frustrating but I find that intriguing and exciting. You never know what you are going to expect when you read one of Christie’s mysteries. It gets very boring when books by the same author remain consistent and show no growth in his or her work. And Then There Were None was originally published in 1939 and Ordeal by Innocence in 1958. By comparing both , you can see how her writing expanded. If she didn’t do that, I don’t think her books would have help revolutionized the psychological/thriller genre.

So do the innocents suffer? Discover how far the killer will make them in this Christie classic. And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express lovers will enjoy trying to solve this psychological puzzle.


Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

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