Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Ordeal By Innocence


It is said that a good rule of thumb in an Agatha Christie mystery is to pick the least likely person to be the murderer. You will usually be right. But not always.

The Argyll family are fabulously wealthy, so when the mother is fatally bludgeoned the husband and all five of the children have a possible money motive. (All of the children were adopted.) But it quickly develops that Jack, the family ne’er-do-well, is promptly and easily found guilty because of irrefutable evidence. He goes to prison, where he is soon beaten to death. A year and a half go by, and a man shows up claiming to have seen Jack at precisely the time he was supposed to have been whacking his mom. So skeletons are soon tumbling out of closets, and yes, all the possible suspects have pretty good reasons to have killed her. And that’s about all I should say.

This was written by Sarah Phelps. This is a woman who has now adapted four of Christie’s novels for serial BBC showings, this one and And Then There Were None (2015), Witness For the Prosecution (2016) and The A.B.C. Murders. And she has developed a reputation of not really giving a shit about the actual plot of these classic mysteries. Since I haven’t read most of them, or read them so long ago that I remember little of the plots, it hasn’t bothered me too much in the two I’ve seen. In fact I have enjoyed them. But when I read what the original stories were I can sure see why Christie fans and purists are outraged. In this one she changes just about everything, including the identity of the killer! I’m afraid that’s too much for me. I’m not saying this is a bad series, it’s not, it’s well-mounted and stars the wonderful Bill Nighy. I just sort of wish I hadn’t learned about how badly this woman mutilated the book. If you are a big fan of Christie, you should probably avoid it altogether.