Views of Iraqis in Murder in Mesopotamia

I posted this in another thread but thought maybe I'd get a better response in the expert section. 

I've been searching online to find an answer to my question and haven't found it so thought I'd see if this community knows anything. 

In Murder in Mesopotamia, Nurse Leatheran makes some rather offensive comments about "the natives." For example, she questions whether Mrs. Leidner is spending too much time alone with natives, thus causing her "fancies." She also describes the Iraqi seen talking to Father Lavigny as "very dark, a dirty dark yellow color." 

Is there any indication if these comments reflect Christie's views or if she is merely showing the prevailing xenophobic views of people of the day?


  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    I hated it, It was slow, I hated all the Characters except the Wodehousian one and the last to die, I hated the narration, I don't read it anymore once is too much, ITV did this Book a favour by Adding Hastings, I hate this Book.

  • edited October 2016
    Wow, Tommy! I actually liked this book very much, in itself and even more because of it's autobiographical aspects. In answer to VickiMG's question: Amy Leathern is presented as a typical insular British traveler, who thinks anything that is different from what she knows back home is bad. It shows in her attitude towards the Mercado couple and her attitude towards the archaeological remains as well as her description of the "natives". AC is slyly poking fun at herself and at English travelers in general. That is not to say that AC didn't have stereotypes - as I've already pointed out in another thread, I went over her books looking for references to Jews (I'm Jewish) and almost all of them were stereotypes and many were negative - Jews were characterized as loud, rich, clever, twisty. I found only one sympathetic Jew in all her books (the young man in "Three act Tragedy"). Does that make her antisemitic? Not necessarily - in her autobiography she describes her horror at meeting Nazi sympathizers. I think the truth is that she had some unconscious stereotypes. If you want to find out more about how she felt about natives of the Arab world, read her book "Come tell me how you live", about life at an archaeological dig.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I am sorry If I went over-board I just was always the book to end and It wouldn't Until the end obviously, I don't like 3-Act Tragedy either I gave that mre of a chance that I should have done in each case ITV did a much better job although in Three-Act Tagedy it would have been nice to have Poirot's friend who is in Quin stories, I have forgotten his name, he helped a Dull story IMHO
  • I didn't see the ITV version of Three Act Tragedy - there is an old movie with Peter Ustinov which was very good, in my opinion. As for Murder in Mesopotamia - just kidding, Tommy! Of course you have the right to feel as you do about it. Actually, I can see why an AC fan wouldn't like it - it's been described as more of a character study than a detective story, and that means the tension and pace are rather low. 
  • Thank you so much! I do book reviews for and am the resident mystery person. I'm trying to introduce readers to more classic works, so I'm doing a series on the Three Grand Dames of Mystery, Agatha Christie, Ngiao Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers. We're running a new book each week, though I plan to do just the Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence books of Christie's. I'm up to Mesopotamia for this Monday. I try to give a little background to each book in this series. I rather suspected that Nurse Leatheran was an image of the insular British, but without evidence, I was hesitant to put that in the review. So thank you! You may hear from me later for other reviews!
  • VickiMG I collected some material from the net on "Murder in Mesopotamia (including the parallel excerpts from AC an Max Mallowan's Memoirs, and other stuff). If you'd like me to send it to you, leave your e-mail here. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I would call Ordeal By Inocence, Crooked House and Taken At The Flood Character studies.
  • edited October 2016
    I agree, Tommy. They are all not only richer in characterization than some of the other books, but also, a major part of what we discover while reading the book is the character of the victim and/or the villain, as well as the dynamics of human interactions (rather than mechanical clues and means of murder). I think Murder in Mesopotamia fits in, and is perhaps closest to the first two you mentioned - SPOILER all three deal with a victim who is discovered to have been a dominant, usually fascinating personality who controlled the other people in their orbit, and therefore when they were murdered, there are a lot of suspects. 
  • I would also add The Hollow and Five Little Pigs as well to the list of books that would be considered as character studies too, Tommy. And perhaps Sad Cypress as well. These 3 books have a different flavor from the other Poirot books and character is emphasized a lot more, especially in The Hollow. 
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