September 2014 Book of the Month: Ordeal by Innocence

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom
edited October 2014 in Non-series novels
While serving a sentence for killing his mother - a crime he insisted he didn't commit - Jacko Argyle dies in prison.
Two years later, the man who could have supported Jacko's alibi suddenly turns up...

Ordeal by Innocence was one of Agatha Christie's own favourite novels, and featured a interpretation of her holiday home, Greenway House.

Leave your thoughts, questions, queries and theories below.


  • I thought that it has been the book of month before... Anyway, I always thought that the atmosphere in this book was always bleak. The fear of death was predominant.Even if it is not one of my favorite books it was Christie's.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I enjoyed this book, although not as much as some Non-Series Books, It is like Crooked House in a way in that they both have Male sleuths and Both leave you pondering the Issues just like Taken At The Flood, I did wonder if this should be a Poirot Book, When Calgary goes from The Solicitor to the Family The Solicitor could visit Poirot who is in the Solicitor's office when Calgary goes back to the Solicitor and Calgary becomes a "Hastings", Don't get me wrong I think the book is Fine without Poirot I just think it would be better with him, What do people think?
  • StathisZavitsanosStathisZavitsanos Attiki, Greece
    edited September 2014

    You have a point. Even if I don't admire Poirot, I shall say that it would have been more famous (not better) and funnier. But Christie didn't like Poirot. When she wrote this book she was free to do whatever she wanted as she was not in any financial need that period and wanted to write something that would be enjoyable for her. That's why she didn't add Poirot as the detective.
  • RAhmadRAhmad New Jersey, United States
    This is a book that one reads for the strength of the story and not for the main detective character.  The book also has a strong human psychological element.  The best is explained by Dr. Calgary's quote, "Justice is, after all, in the hands of men, and men are fallible.". 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I agree RAhmad, It is a book you read that makes you think not a book where you think "Isn't this a fun book because it isn't fun it is Interesting.
  • I really liked this book as a psychological study of an overwhelming, suffocating mother. in that respect, the key sentence of the book is: "The thing she didn't give them and that they needed, was a little plain, honest-to-goodness neglect". When I was bringing up my daughters I often remembered that and tried to live by it - giving my daughters values and limits, but letting them make their own choices and mistakes. I owe Agatha Christie a lot of credit for that.

  • tanyadelliotttanyadelliott Hampshire, United Kingdom
    I thought the point that this could very easily have been a Poirot mystery was very valid, why mess with a winning formula, but then as the author I guess you get to choose. I thoughly enjoyed the book, and did guess who the murderer was but only towards the end of the book. I liked the fact that for once the who, where, and when and why was guessable unlike some of Christies other books. I was thrilled that Hester didn't go back to her doubting doctor and as a result Calgary got his girl in the end. Somehow as always Christie manages to make those murdered, people who deserved it, and even Mary got her comeuppance in the loss of her husband, and Tina although having been stabbed was repaid with the promise of love after so long. Roll on the next book!
  • ChristeryChristery Rhode Island, United States
    Just finished this book tonight. I liked it a lot although not in my top favorites. Christie has said it was one of her most satisfying and I can understand why she said this. This book stands out from other Christies in that murder and motives are dealt with in a completely serious way. There is no light-hearted frivolity to be found here and the big "Issue" of this book is Innoscence/Guilt and Nature/Nurture. All of the suspects are wracked with guilt and suspicions toward each other and, unlike most of her other books, they are not stock stereotype characters. Christie delves deeply into the mindsets and backgrounds of each suspect. One can tell she was striving to make "Big Statements" with this book. I agree with most others who say that the book is a little too long as it painstakingly goes over and over the same descriptions of the characters again and again. One wanted to say "Alright, Agatha, we get it, we get it! You don't have to keep banging us over the head with it!" ( Ironic reference to the fireplace poker murder weapon!) For the main middle section of the book there is actually almost no physical action moving the plot along - just endless retreading of the psychological issues involved. And then suddenly at the last chapter it's almost as if Christie thought "Oh dear, I'm at the end, stuff better start happening!" and we get a quick flurry of action, murders, and solutions. In closing, I felt it was a good book and credit Christie for reaching out and pushing beyond her usual book structure and tone, but can't say it was completely successful.
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