Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

A murder case has to be reopened, but the accused murderer, Jacko, is dead. He died while serving in prison. The prime witness Dr Calgary returns after a year of the murder (for medical reasons, he wasn’t found during the trial) and testifies that Jacko was telling the truth. Jacko was indeed with Dr Calgary during the suspected murder time. Jacko gets a posthumous free pardon. Now the question is, if Jacko isn’t the murderer of Rachel Argyle, his mother, then who is?

If you read the starting chapters carefully, a clear hint has been thrown as to who the real murderer is. I somehow had already guessed it. The plot was exciting, but the dialogues and conversations were repetitive and went on and on in circles. At a point, I felt will we never get to the end. Also, Dr Calgary solves the case in the end, but he isn’t really the detective. He does his part detecting, but it wasn’t as engaging as Phillip did. The sad part is that he got less time in the book, I expected him to be the main character going around looking for clues, but that part was given to Philip.

It is a good read if you have the patience to go through the same thing repeatedly.

Some nice quotes from the book –

  • “Nothing is ever settled until–”’ ‘“Until it is settled right,”’ Miss Vaughan finished for him. ‘Kipling.’
  • It’s not the guilty who matter. It’s the innocent.’
  • ‘Justice is, after all, in the hands of men, and men are fallible.’
  • We rehearse a thing beforehand in our own minds, it doesn’t matter what it is, consultation with another practitioner, proposal of marriage to a young lady, talk with your boy before going back to school–when the thing comes off, it never goes as you thought it would. You’ve thought it out, you see; all the things that you are going to say and you’ve usually made up your mind what the answers are going to be. And, of course, that’s what throws you off every time. The answers never are what you think they will be.
  • isn’t it the Chinese who held that beneficence is to be accounted a sin rather than a virtue?
  • The thing she didn’t give them and that they needed, was a little plain, honest-to-goodness neglect.
  • ‘Someone was guilty–and got away with it. But the others were innocent–and didn’t get away with anything.’
  • Devotion was all very well when you could get away from it for nine or ten hours of the day. It was a nice thing to come home to. But now he was lapped round with it; watched over, cared for, cherished. It made one yearn for a little wholesome neglect…One had, in fact, to find ways to escape.
  • She’s the age when women go slightly off their rocker in one way or another.
  • Venus toute entière à sa proie attaché… And that Mary he did not love.

Available on Amazon Kindle Edition, Audiobook, Hardcover and Paperback.


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