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So Many Steps To Death (Agatha Christie Mystery Collection)

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In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist. When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who app In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist. When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash. Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .


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In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist. When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who app In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist. When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash. Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .

30 review for So Many Steps To Death (Agatha Christie Mystery Collection)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    The Christie thrillers are such a departure from her usual whodunnits, that they're a real mix bag. This started so strongly and with promise but ultimately descended into chaos. Hilary Craven is so down that she contemplates suicide, that is until she is given a better way to die... She is tasked with impersonating a wife of a missing nuclear scientist who is believed to have deflected to the Soviet Union. This is so real cold war behind the Iron Curtain stuff. Which makes the Moroccan setting even The Christie thrillers are such a departure from her usual whodunnits, that they're a real mix bag. This started so strongly and with promise but ultimately descended into chaos. Hilary Craven is so down that she contemplates suicide, that is until she is given a better way to die... She is tasked with impersonating a wife of a missing nuclear scientist who is believed to have deflected to the Soviet Union. This is so real cold war behind the Iron Curtain stuff. Which makes the Moroccan setting even more interesting. Like all good spy novels the secret base in the mountains is kinda cool but the reveal of the plan felt kinda weak. More entertaining than many of her other standalones But when it comes to the Queen of Crime, I much prefer a good murder mystery.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I read 81 of Agatha Christie's 82 books (I've always refused to read Final Curtain) between the ages of 14-16. I loved her books heart and soul - but my reading taste matured and at some point I became an insufferable snob when it comes to genre fiction. However, after a long quarter with an pedantic twerp professor for a literature class I decided I needed a completely frivolous break from literary fiction. I picked up And Then There Were None for a reread. It read fast and fun and reminded me I read 81 of Agatha Christie's 82 books (I've always refused to read Final Curtain) between the ages of 14-16. I loved her books heart and soul - but my reading taste matured and at some point I became an insufferable snob when it comes to genre fiction. However, after a long quarter with an pedantic twerp professor for a literature class I decided I needed a completely frivolous break from literary fiction. I picked up And Then There Were None for a reread. It read fast and fun and reminded me how relaxing and enjoyable genre reading can be. I was ready for more. Destination Unknown was always my favorite Christie book. I loved Mrs. Marple and Poirot to be sure, but I always reveled most in her stand alone books. It would be easy to pick this book apart from any number of perspectives and from the reviews here, it's clear that most people aren't very impressed with this book. It's more than a stand alone book, it's not a mystery. It's a thriller and it's drenched in cold-war era propaganda. It's plot is improbable, and often absurd, edging up to a Fleming-like escapism. The characters are one-dimensional tropes and you know how it's going to end from the first chapter. But that criticism could apply to any book in Christie's catalog. She's not a deep or literary writer, but nonetheless she's a damn entertaining writer. My love of this book is a pure guilty indulgence. I grew up in the 80s and love cold-war books and movies. I've always had a soft spot for spy thrillers, whether they be serious like La Carre, or absurd like Fleming. Destination Unknown doesn't ask you to think or feel on a complex level, rather it provides you with familiar stories and faces that let you rest and relax as the story effortlessly unfolds. It was the perfect antidote to detoxify all the literary snootiness I slogged through in school last quarter to remember that reading is supposed to be a joyful experience, not a chore, and all books, genre or literary are worthwhile if someone finds joy in them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Hilary Craven has lost everything that is dear to her and cannot contemplate life any longer. As she sets out to act on her despair, she is approached with a proposition... I said it before and I say it again: Dame Agatha did not write good spy thrillers. This another proof of it. Although, Destination Unknown was not as outrageously bad as Passenger to Frankfurt - I mean really, not many books are as bad as that - this one was quite boring. Maybe it was because the story was too slow paced, or ma Hilary Craven has lost everything that is dear to her and cannot contemplate life any longer. As she sets out to act on her despair, she is approached with a proposition... I said it before and I say it again: Dame Agatha did not write good spy thrillers. This another proof of it. Although, Destination Unknown was not as outrageously bad as Passenger to Frankfurt - I mean really, not many books are as bad as that - this one was quite boring. Maybe it was because the story was too slow paced, or maybe it was because the idea of merging Christie's signature twee style with a supposedly hard-boiled Cold War thriller just didn't work. Whatever the reason, I was so bored.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lotte

    This was not a typical Agatha Christie book at all since it was more of a spy thriller than a detective story. While I think I definitely prefer her "classic crime solving", it was still interesting to see AC dipping her toes in a different genre. (I listened to this on audiobook btw.) This was not a typical Agatha Christie book at all since it was more of a spy thriller than a detective story. While I think I definitely prefer her "classic crime solving", it was still interesting to see AC dipping her toes in a different genre. (I listened to this on audiobook btw.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marija Simić

    I kept thinking, something is wrong! Then, I realized, something is missing. A murder. Still, pretty enjoyed this book, although it's not really Christie's 'typical' book. But, still, contains many interesting characters! I know it's good, when I close the book, and say, 'Man! I feel I just came back from a journey.' So yeah, not a master piece of Agatha, but still, easy, interesting read. I kept thinking, something is wrong! Then, I realized, something is missing. A murder. Still, pretty enjoyed this book, although it's not really Christie's 'typical' book. But, still, contains many interesting characters! I know it's good, when I close the book, and say, 'Man! I feel I just came back from a journey.' So yeah, not a master piece of Agatha, but still, easy, interesting read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    There are definitely highs and lows in this one-- overall, it was a Christie book written when she was still in top form, so it's a pleasant enough reading experience. I enjoyed Hilary & Peters, but aside from that, this feels pretty stuck in its time. Not a bad time, but not one of her best IMO There are definitely highs and lows in this one-- overall, it was a Christie book written when she was still in top form, so it's a pleasant enough reading experience. I enjoyed Hilary & Peters, but aside from that, this feels pretty stuck in its time. Not a bad time, but not one of her best IMO

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vikas Singh

    One of the best Christie novels. A fast paced spy thriller, it has all elements of international espionage and intrigue. And in true Christie fashion there is a twisted end. The story line is so gripping that you would want to finish it in one go. Superb reading

  8. 4 out of 5

    Simona B

    Destination Unknown kind of anticipates Passenger to Frankfurt, in my opinion, and that's enough to explain why I couldn't enjoy nor stand it. Destination Unknown kind of anticipates Passenger to Frankfurt, in my opinion, and that's enough to explain why I couldn't enjoy nor stand it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Mitchell

    A delightful meaningless romp. The queen of mystery took a break from Poirot and Marple to produce a post-war action/adventure thriller story about the mysterious disappearance of scientists all over the world and the unlikely spy who cracks the case. Always moving (to a destination unknown), along the way there is murder, adventure, mistaken identity, and even love, all with that Agatha Christie tongue-in-cheek humor and charm in a decidedly more Hitchcockian vein. Destination Unknown is Tommy & A delightful meaningless romp. The queen of mystery took a break from Poirot and Marple to produce a post-war action/adventure thriller story about the mysterious disappearance of scientists all over the world and the unlikely spy who cracks the case. Always moving (to a destination unknown), along the way there is murder, adventure, mistaken identity, and even love, all with that Agatha Christie tongue-in-cheek humor and charm in a decidedly more Hitchcockian vein. Destination Unknown is Tommy & Tuppence meet “The Lady on the Train.” Good clean fun. I’m surprised it’s never been turned into at least a made-for-tv movie. Recommended for a palate cleaning reading break or a rainy afternoon.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I struggled all of the way through this Agatha Christie stand alone mystery. I felt it very dry and uninteresting most of the way through. There were a few characters I really wanted to like, but because of the way the story was written, I could not get close enough to them. Right up to the last chapter in the book, it was hard to see where this plot was going to take me and how it was all going to turn out. I stuck with it, and admit that the outcome made me smile. I think the conclusion was "a I struggled all of the way through this Agatha Christie stand alone mystery. I felt it very dry and uninteresting most of the way through. There were a few characters I really wanted to like, but because of the way the story was written, I could not get close enough to them. Right up to the last chapter in the book, it was hard to see where this plot was going to take me and how it was all going to turn out. I stuck with it, and admit that the outcome made me smile. I think the conclusion was "all's well that ends well". Is that Shakespeare? If it is, then I agree. The destination, finally, IS known.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teck Wu

    3.5 stars. Good descriptions and creativity, as always. But plot is very straightforward. Not very gripping.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Hickman

    Now this is the type of Mystery book that makes me love to read! I love reading Agatha Christie the best...in her books there are no cursing, violence, etc. They make you have to use your mind. This book is not a "serial" from what I can gather...there is no Tommy & Tuppence, Miss Marple or M. Hercules Peirot to solve the crime. I actually did not get all the story till the end. There were more than one tale woven into this story. Now this is the type of Mystery book that makes me love to read! I love reading Agatha Christie the best...in her books there are no cursing, violence, etc. They make you have to use your mind. This book is not a "serial" from what I can gather...there is no Tommy & Tuppence, Miss Marple or M. Hercules Peirot to solve the crime. I actually did not get all the story till the end. There were more than one tale woven into this story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amina

    I'm a little bit disappointed, it was more of a spy thing than a mystery novel and am not that fan of spying books, kept waiting for the intrigue but it didnt show up, hoped for better than this, mais bon.. I'm a little bit disappointed, it was more of a spy thing than a mystery novel and am not that fan of spying books, kept waiting for the intrigue but it didnt show up, hoped for better than this, mais bon..

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    When I was 12 we were leaving the states to move back to England. About a month before we left I realised that there was absoultely no reason for me to be paying attention in class, as I was leaving before the end of term, would never get those grades and was soon to be starting a new school in a foreign country. So instead I decided I would read all the Sweet Valley High books and Agatha Christie books in the school library. (I did very well and achieved this averaging about 3 books a day). Of When I was 12 we were leaving the states to move back to England. About a month before we left I realised that there was absoultely no reason for me to be paying attention in class, as I was leaving before the end of term, would never get those grades and was soon to be starting a new school in a foreign country. So instead I decided I would read all the Sweet Valley High books and Agatha Christie books in the school library. (I did very well and achieved this averaging about 3 books a day). Of all the Agatha Christie books I read Destination Unknown was my favourtie. It wasn't your typical Agatha Christie. It had a young suicidal heroine who instead of taking sleeping pills was offered "a more interesting death" by the secret service who were out looking for missing scientists. I remember it being very different and very good. I've been searching for it again for the past few years and finally found a copy used before Christmas and re-read it. I was pleased to see that I still enjoyed it very much. I liked the strong, yet suicidal, heroine. I liked her resourcefullness. It was an interesting thriller with a mysterious journey ending in an evil base full of scientists at a leper colony. I was also very pleasantly surprised that I had forgotten the ending. I probably won't rush out and read anymore Agatha Christie but I'm glad this one was as much fun as I remembered.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    f you open up an Agatha Christie novel looking forward to a nicely arranged corpse in front of a roaring fire, and Hercule Poirot standing over them – then this one might disappoint – though it shouldn’t. There are no corpses – and no Poirot or Marple – not even a brace of Beresfords. This is one of Christie’s thrillers – and it is excellent in a similar way to the They Came to Baghdad was. Like so many Christie’s novels set in the places she travelled to – there is a great sense of place, and sh f you open up an Agatha Christie novel looking forward to a nicely arranged corpse in front of a roaring fire, and Hercule Poirot standing over them – then this one might disappoint – though it shouldn’t. There are no corpses – and no Poirot or Marple – not even a brace of Beresfords. This is one of Christie’s thrillers – and it is excellent in a similar way to the They Came to Baghdad was. Like so many Christie’s novels set in the places she travelled to – there is a great sense of place, and she always portrays that peculiar species – the Brit abroad – so well too. In place of bodies, poison, blackmail and detectives, we have British Intelligence, disappearing scientists, a shadowy organisation proposing a new world order, and a wonderfully plucky woman. “Why do you decry the world we live in? There are good people in it. Isn’t muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that’s imposed, a world order that may be right today and wrong tomorrow? I would rather have a world of kindly, faulty, human beings, than a world of superior robots who’ve said goodbye to pity and understanding and sympathy.” A famous British scientist Thomas Betterton has gone missing – and with conflicting reports of sightings, British intelligence are getting twitchy. For Betterton is the inventor of ZE Fusion, and it is well known that there are those who would like to get their hands on it. Other scientists have also disappeared. A man called Jessop invites Betterton’s wife in for a little chat – no one is quite sure if she knows where her husband of six months has gone or not. Olive Betterton is exhausted from the press speculation and worry – and asks permission to go abroad to get away from it all – she was thinking about Morocco. Permission granted Olive Betterton sets off, a carefully orchestrated tail in close pursuit. However, Olive’s plane to Casablanca crashes, and Olive lies insensible in hospital, one of just a few survivors, the doctors predict she won’t live long. Full review: https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2018/...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Book on CD read by Emilia Fox A brilliant young scientist has disappeared from Paris. The international community is concerned, as he is only one of several scientists who have recently dropped from sight. His wife, Olive Betterton, may know more than she is willing to say, but she lies in a Moroccan hospital bed, dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash. Meanwhile, Hilary Craven is in the grips of depression – her daughter has died, her husband has left her. She has nothing to live for … u Book on CD read by Emilia Fox A brilliant young scientist has disappeared from Paris. The international community is concerned, as he is only one of several scientists who have recently dropped from sight. His wife, Olive Betterton, may know more than she is willing to say, but she lies in a Moroccan hospital bed, dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash. Meanwhile, Hilary Craven is in the grips of depression – her daughter has died, her husband has left her. She has nothing to live for … until British secret agent Jessop offers her a chance to help her country. This is a cold-war spy thriller that is obviously dated. The characters and plot include the aforementioned brilliant scientists, double agents, an evil genius mastermind, an exotic locale, a secret laboratory, a beautiful heroine, and a strong handsome hero. Christie was a master at writing a suspenseful thriller, and all the hallmarks of her craft are here. But the plot is so dated and the spy / evil genius theme so over-the-top by today’s standards as to be laughable. I wound up thinking Get Smart rather than James Bond. Emilia Fox does a pretty good job of the “normal” characters. She even has a great brassy American accent for one tourist Hilary encounters. But her evil genius character is just laughable. Makes me wonder if Christie intended this to be a campy take-off of the spy thriller genre.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    Danger! Disguises! Spies! The Iron Curtain! This book would fit much better under the class of thriller than mystery. It features a great female protagonist who has been dealt a really harsh hand (cheating husband, death of a child), and is stopped from committing suicide with an offer to dip her toes in the pool of espionage. It was written during a time when everyone was giving Russia/communism an extremely intense side eye, so the general fear of those and other related things aren't necessaril Danger! Disguises! Spies! The Iron Curtain! This book would fit much better under the class of thriller than mystery. It features a great female protagonist who has been dealt a really harsh hand (cheating husband, death of a child), and is stopped from committing suicide with an offer to dip her toes in the pool of espionage. It was written during a time when everyone was giving Russia/communism an extremely intense side eye, so the general fear of those and other related things aren't necessarily as applicable to today. Don't let that dissuade you though, because that's not really what the book is about anyway. Like I said, although there's the bare premise of a mystery (what on earth is happening to all of these smart people?) it's just not that kind of book. That's not to say it isn't a fun and worthwhile read, I just don't want anyone to come into it with the wrong expectations. I'm not the biggest fan of the ending, it's a little anti-climactic. If you enjoy Christie and want to experience something a little different from her norm, I suggest picking up this book or one of the other suspense thrillers she wrote.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    First published 1954. That’s exactly right: this about communism and fascism and the Iron Curtain and Joe McCarthy, and it takes those elements and dials them up to eleven, and what results is bananas. (Christie makes a casual distinction between communism and fascism that reads as nuanced to me, in 2020, and yet its very casual affect makes me think this distinction must have been obvious to readers in the 50s. Hmmmm.) There’s some human element underneath it all, which is what saves it. Hilary i First published 1954. That’s exactly right: this about communism and fascism and the Iron Curtain and Joe McCarthy, and it takes those elements and dials them up to eleven, and what results is bananas. (Christie makes a casual distinction between communism and fascism that reads as nuanced to me, in 2020, and yet its very casual affect makes me think this distinction must have been obvious to readers in the 50s. Hmmmm.) There’s some human element underneath it all, which is what saves it. Hilary is great. She keeps saying she’s living in a dream and there is something dreamlike about the story here - it’s so fantastic and outrageous. And it starts so quietly, too, and unleashes the conspiracy so calmly. I’m not sure the tone of it (or the description of the man - This man, you felt, was an indoor man. A man of desks and files. The fact that to reach his office you had to walk through long twisting underground corridors was somehow strangely appropriate. It would have been difficult to guess his age) quite fits the book that follows. Here is a delightful passage: She was wearing no make-up, he noticed. He considered the significance of that whilst he was greeting her... It inclined him very slightly to the belief that Mrs. Betterton knew more than she had said she knew. In his experience, women suffering from violent grief and anxiety did not neglect their make-up. Aware of the ravages grief made in their appearance, they did their best to repair those ravages. He wondered if Mrs. Betterton calculatingly abstained from make-up, the better to sustain the part of the distracted wife. A woman wrote that! I admit I’m surprised! (This expressionless abstracted man of papers turns out to be an owlish young man, one who daringly goes into the field. It’s the sort of characterization that happens all the time, and I resent it. I resent it even if they don’t assume guilt due to makeup-wearing or lack thereof.) I’m not sure why my brain only chose to remember the leper colony: there’s so much else here. And in such a short book! There’s a conspiracy behind every conspiracy and a disguise behind every disguise. Christie’s kind of cynical, I think, because in the end (view spoiler)[this is about Shakespeare - not falling in love per Leblanc, but filthy lucre. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    Beth, this is the leper colony book. And I suppose technically that could be a spoiler, but also not really, because the plot of this is a bit fantastical. I actually like the set-up: a woman who feels she has nothing to live for essentially deciding to take a possible suicide mission to try and solve a crime. I even like the leper colony as a ruse for what's actually going on at the sinister facility, because let's face it, who wants to look too closely at a leper colony. But also, this sort of fee Beth, this is the leper colony book. And I suppose technically that could be a spoiler, but also not really, because the plot of this is a bit fantastical. I actually like the set-up: a woman who feels she has nothing to live for essentially deciding to take a possible suicide mission to try and solve a crime. I even like the leper colony as a ruse for what's actually going on at the sinister facility, because let's face it, who wants to look too closely at a leper colony. But also, this sort of feels like if you put a bunch of elements of a spy novel in a bag and shook: - Mistaken identity! Disguise! Lots of it! (To the extent that the end scene between the protagonists made me laugh) - Developing feelings in a high pressure situation - Exotic travel - Random rich dude - No one really knows what's going on - (view spoiler)[Pearls as breadcrumbs - this actually was a nice touch (hide spoiler)] - Much faking of people's deaths And all in the name of science. Anyway, I enjoyed it, I didn't love it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve R

    This 1954 novel is, by my count, Christie’s third foray into the realm of ‘spy thriller’, following what I felt to be the relative failures of The Big Four and They Came to Baghdad. I find it somewhat surprising that a writer with such refined skills in the detective genre of the murder mystery and the psychological drama of the ‘straight’ novel could show herself so weak in the realm of international intrigue. There are several problems: - The heroine, Hilary Craven, is much more an ‘acted-upon’ This 1954 novel is, by my count, Christie’s third foray into the realm of ‘spy thriller’, following what I felt to be the relative failures of The Big Four and They Came to Baghdad. I find it somewhat surprising that a writer with such refined skills in the detective genre of the murder mystery and the psychological drama of the ‘straight’ novel could show herself so weak in the realm of international intrigue. There are several problems: - The heroine, Hilary Craven, is much more an ‘acted-upon’ rather than a forceful figure in charge of her own destiny. From her early rock bottom remorse to her rather over enthusiastic embrace of her infiltration mission to her sense of fearful apprehension when imprisoned in The Unit, she continually seems to somehow lack any real sense of personal credibility. This is very unlike the highly attractive heroines of Christie’s earlier detective-less adventure stories: maybe Christie at middle age no longer had the fervour of youthful energy she did presented in the earlier works. - Again, the forces arrayed against the heroine are so powerful, so ill-defined, so insidious and, above all else, so nebulous as to lack any real sense of credibility. Are they communists? Are they fascists? Are they minions of a megalomaniac with an awful lot of money? These issues are eventually resolved, but for a long while this mist enveloping the opposing force made for another unsatisfying part of the whole puzzle. - Although I never doubt any story involving the extreme obscenities associated with excessive wealth, the use to which the mastermind behind the Unit wants to put it (view spoiler)[ involving a cornering of the market on exceptional human brains (hide spoiler)] and the means which he proposes to make his new product marketable (view spoiler)[ brain leuctomies in order to develop uniform docility while not corrupting essential creativity (hide spoiler)] are both so very out-there as to be almost laughably implausible. - The cobbled together murder/revenge/concealed identities/true love story which Christie chose to end this book with highlights, I believe, her own distrust in the weight of the 95 percent of the story which preceded it; it is as if she too thought it was simply not strong enough. However, the appended solution made it worse, not better. Christie’s dominant strengths are in characterization and plotting. The look in a person’s eye or the bend of their mouth speaks volumes, as do the time at which the tea service was unaccountably left on the hallway table. Such minutiae truly show her amazing attention to detail. When she attempts such a wider geopolitical conception, I feel she truly loses touch with that which made her such a great writer: her knowledge of specific people and places. Nonetheless, not a total waste of time. There is some suspense in wondering about the fate of the heroine, just as there is in watching one of her sleuths solve the seemingly elusive murder. However, the intensity of the suspense is far lower.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This is not a traditional murder mystery, but rather a political thriller/mystery. It starts with two rather grey men working in a rather grey office, discussing the disappearance of several scientists from various countries, but one in particular from England. Tom Betterton has vanished recently without a trace, and his wife has no idea where he has gone. At the same time, a young woman is so desperately sad at the death of her young daughter and the breakdown of her marriage that she sees no po This is not a traditional murder mystery, but rather a political thriller/mystery. It starts with two rather grey men working in a rather grey office, discussing the disappearance of several scientists from various countries, but one in particular from England. Tom Betterton has vanished recently without a trace, and his wife has no idea where he has gone. At the same time, a young woman is so desperately sad at the death of her young daughter and the breakdown of her marriage that she sees no point in going on with life. Due to several coincidences, (view spoiler)[ she (Hilary) takes the part of the missing scientist's wife, and travels to meet him in a secret lab under a mountain in Africa. Now I know this sounds like a James Bond plot, and indeed this is one of Christie's later works, published in 1954, the same year as Fleming's Live and Let Die. It is nothing like the typical Golden Age country house murders for which we know and love her. However Hilary does meet a reassuringly Marple-esque lady at one point. "In an uncomfortable Empire-type chair Miss Hetherington who could not be mistaken for anything but travelling English, was knitting one of those melancholy shapeless-looking garments that English ladies of middle age always seem to be knitting. Miss Hetherington was tall and thin with a scraggy neck, badly arranged hair, and a general expression of moral disappointment of the universe." Hilary meets up with Tom Betterton and, for reasons of his own, he doesn't denounce her as an imposter. As she gets to know the various other scientists at the lab, she begins to question their political and moral ideals. (hide spoiler)] Christie uses this as a basis for a discussion about Communism, facism and idealism which must all have been prevalent at that time, less than ten years after the end of WW2. She also covers the value of science, with a particular focus on nuclear and atomic weapons technology. Again this was topical in the 50s following the development and testing of the hydrogen bomb. In particular she talks, through her characters, about whether pure scientific research is valid, even if it leads to death and destruction. Another issue she deals with in this book is age versus youth. The Director talks of how all the scientists are under forty-five and how youth should use its energy to overthrow accumulated wealth and prestige. Christie came from a wealthy family herself and would have been 65 when this book was published, so perhaps she is reflecting on the power of the younger generation and also the danger of its youthful ideals being manipulated by charismatic leaders for their own inglorious goals. It's not all politics, power and pessimism though, far from it. There are hidden clues, clever plotting, mysterious characters who turn out to be not what they pretended to be (several of them in fact!), an ingenious escape plan and several people getting a chance of a new life, a new love, or both. I really enjoyed it and will read it again, even though it was an unexpected departure for this author. May 14th 2021 This has to be one of my favourite Christie novels. The plot is ingenious, and it twists and turns all over the place. The characters all feel very real, even if mostly unlikeable. I'm sure it would have felt even more relevant at the time it was written, with concerns about the Cold War, weapons of mass destruction and political unrest following the two world wars. I will be reading this one again, no doubt. I listened to an audio version, read by Emilia Fox. She did a good job of the narration, although the occasional yelling and sobbing were a little hard on the eardrums through my headphones! As always, I felt I missed out a bit, because my attention wanders with audiobooks, but I'll get a print copy soon and enjoy it in that way too.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chitra Iyer

    Destination Unknown is the book of the month for July’s reading challenge. I was pleasantly surprised that Agatha Christie (AC) had ventured into something unique and away from her comfort zone. Her hesitation to take up bold moves in the story does show but this was, nonetheless, a satisfying read to say the least. Here’s a quick summary for you before getting to the review. Summary When a number of scientists begin to disappear, the intelligence community is concerned. Their only hope is Mrs Oliv Destination Unknown is the book of the month for July’s reading challenge. I was pleasantly surprised that Agatha Christie (AC) had ventured into something unique and away from her comfort zone. Her hesitation to take up bold moves in the story does show but this was, nonetheless, a satisfying read to say the least. Here’s a quick summary for you before getting to the review. Summary When a number of scientists begin to disappear, the intelligence community is concerned. Their only hope is Mrs Olive Betterton, wife of one of the missing scientists. Meanwhile, Hilary Craven is just about to commit suicide when a knock on the door shocks her and disrupts all her plans. But she is even more shocked to find a man on the other side, offering her a more exciting way to die. What I Liked Now, this isn’t a popular Agatha Christie book by people’s choice. The reason being, it isn’t your regular who-dun-it that is expected from the author. Destination Unknown has a unique story line, very different from what AC usually brings us. Honesty, I loved it! No, I’m not being partial to AC here, I just simply loved that she tried something so different from her regular plots and which was also updated of its time. I personally feel that she succeeded. I enjoyed the book. The story has some strong female characters, very gutsy. I must point out that the plot caught me unaware, pleasantly though. It reminded me of the James Bond movies of the 70s. What I Did Not Like Spy stories are not AC’s forte but the book isn’t something I would steer away from. Other Details Destination Unknown is one of those books that do not feature any of the AC detectives. A standalone and adventurous tale. Would I Recommend It? Yes! If you’re looking for something different from AC, then do give this a go.

  23. 5 out of 5

    onelmon

    ***SPOILER ALERT*** A very different mystery from Agatha Christie. I admit that I kept flipping the pages expecting someone to die on the next page, but to my surprise, no murder happened at all (excluding anything happened before Hilary Craven took the role of Olive Betterton). Nonetheless, I really like the plot. The main story isn't about murder but it's a crime all right; and I think the idea of introducing "another way" to suicide by sending that very person to a dangerous (something with th ***SPOILER ALERT*** A very different mystery from Agatha Christie. I admit that I kept flipping the pages expecting someone to die on the next page, but to my surprise, no murder happened at all (excluding anything happened before Hilary Craven took the role of Olive Betterton). Nonetheless, I really like the plot. The main story isn't about murder but it's a crime all right; and I think the idea of introducing "another way" to suicide by sending that very person to a dangerous (something with the ring of you-may-die-in-it) mission is such a brilliant start to the whole story. I didn't expect Agatha Christie could write something entirely different from her usual murder cases like this and wrote it very well too. She is really the Queen of Crime. A little bit of the story: Hilary Craven was about to commit suicide by swallowing the sleeping pills when an unknown gentleman knocked the door of her hotel room and offered her a life-threathening mission. She were to pose as Olive Betterton whom was at that moment in dying condition due to an airplane crash and to look for the missing scientist husband, Thomas Betterton. During her journey to the unknown destinations, Hilary found out that many genious scientists from around the world had gone missing like what happened to her "husband" and she was just too ready to take on any risks to find out the truth. Will Hilary survive the mission and find a reason to keep living or will the mission be her final task in this world?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    Audiobook This book seemed a bit of a departure from Agatha's previous books which I liked. Great ending. Audiobook This book seemed a bit of a departure from Agatha's previous books which I liked. Great ending.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Krissa Hill

    With just 100 pages left I thought this was a solid 3 star. How could I doubt Agatha Christie? My head just exploded with how surprisingly complex this was!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tgordon

    Yeah this was bad and not the Agatha I know. I gave it 3 stars because she’s Agatha but it was one of her worst written.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anirban

    A different platter from Agatha Christie. Destination Unknown never comes up as a straight laced detective fiction. Rather it falls into a unknown Christie genre of spy/political fiction. Scientists disappearing from all over the world leaves the West baffled. The book is all about trying to find out who or what is making them disappear. A common theme of Christie present in this book is a simple woman who is also the main protagonist helped on by a male government official. All in all this book A different platter from Agatha Christie. Destination Unknown never comes up as a straight laced detective fiction. Rather it falls into a unknown Christie genre of spy/political fiction. Scientists disappearing from all over the world leaves the West baffled. The book is all about trying to find out who or what is making them disappear. A common theme of Christie present in this book is a simple woman who is also the main protagonist helped on by a male government official. All in all this book reads and feels a lot like "They Came to Baghdad". Both being political thrillers with woman protagonist in the thick of things. The setting though different continent wise was still had a common factor i.e desert and sand. For this book it was Morocco, for "They.." it was Iraq. Definitely not a masterpiece, but it still comes out as a page turner.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Niki (nikilovestoread)

    There is just something about Agatha Christie books. I've enjoyed almost every one I have read. Destination Unknown is a bit different from her normal murder mysteries, but I really enjoyed it. It was fun to see her take on a different theme (more of a spy thriller) and add her own style to it. Famous scientists around the world are disappearing without a trace. Hilary Craven is enlisted by Mr. Jessop to help him get to the bottom of the disappearances and figure out what is going on. The disapp There is just something about Agatha Christie books. I've enjoyed almost every one I have read. Destination Unknown is a bit different from her normal murder mysteries, but I really enjoyed it. It was fun to see her take on a different theme (more of a spy thriller) and add her own style to it. Famous scientists around the world are disappearing without a trace. Hilary Craven is enlisted by Mr. Jessop to help him get to the bottom of the disappearances and figure out what is going on. The disappearances are taking place all over Europe at a time of heightened security following World War II.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diana Long

    Not one of her normal murder mysteries, but an enjoyable, well written and thoroughly engrossing story. In this work, the disappearance of the worlds foremost scientists, doctors, etc. causes alarm across the globe. A crime hasn't actually been committed or has it? A woman who contemplates suicide is interrupted in her attempt and enlisted to aid in solving the mystery by going undercover. As the pages turn the plot thickens and our heroine goes on one hazardous adventure. Plenty of twists, tur Not one of her normal murder mysteries, but an enjoyable, well written and thoroughly engrossing story. In this work, the disappearance of the worlds foremost scientists, doctors, etc. causes alarm across the globe. A crime hasn't actually been committed or has it? A woman who contemplates suicide is interrupted in her attempt and enlisted to aid in solving the mystery by going undercover. As the pages turn the plot thickens and our heroine goes on one hazardous adventure. Plenty of twists, turns and surprises and an unexpected ending.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    "Mais—c'est colossal!" "Yes." "C'est fantastique!" "Quite." "Enfin—c'est formidable!" "Definitely." These are all expressions that I would use to describe Agatha Christie's Destination Unknown. Not only does this book have as many twists and turns as any true Christie novel should display, but the reader is also given a delightful cast of characters that become beloved by the end of the book. Mr. Jessop, with his quiet, untrusting shrewdness. Hilary Craven with her honest, probing questions. Andrew Pet "Mais—c'est colossal!" "Yes." "C'est fantastique!" "Quite." "Enfin—c'est formidable!" "Definitely." These are all expressions that I would use to describe Agatha Christie's Destination Unknown. Not only does this book have as many twists and turns as any true Christie novel should display, but the reader is also given a delightful cast of characters that become beloved by the end of the book. Mr. Jessop, with his quiet, untrusting shrewdness. Hilary Craven with her honest, probing questions. Andrew Peters with his determination and strength. All of these characters and more become unforgettable by the end of the book. Because this novel is set during the Cold War, the topic of communism comes up many times. One of the most memorable of these moments is when Hilary Craven responds to a pro-communist: "Why do you decry the world we live in? There are good people in it. Isn't muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that's imposed, a world order that may be right today and wrong tomorrow? I would rather have a world of kindly, faulty, human beings, than a world of superior robots who've said goodbye to pity and understanding and sympathy." This is very interesting, because not only does it reveal the character of Mrs. Craven, it also reveals the beliefs, ideas, and feelings of Christie. This book is entirely different from most of the author's other works, being a spy thriller instead of a cozy English mystery. Nevertheless, the author was able to write a beautiful, exciting novel that leaves an impression on the reader. Bravo Christie.

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