Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie

An innocent day’s golfing is going to have long-lasting repercussions for Bobby Jones, the son of the local vicar. After slicing a shot well off-target, he stumbles across a dying man at the bottom of a cliff. The man’s final words before passing away – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

Although the death is presumed by most to be an accident, Bobby and his old friend Frances Derwent are convinced that there is more going on than it seems. What do those last words mean? And who is the woman in the photo in the dead man’s wallet? Unfortunately, their investigations are soon noticed by the very people they are chasing – who is going to catch who first?

I’m easily persuadable sometimes. I was wondering what on my Kindle I was going to read on the train home from the Bodies From The Library and I remembered Dolores Gordon-Smith championing Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? as her Desert Island Book, basically for its sense of fun. Well, that sounded exactly like the sort of thing that I needed as I was feeling a little sleepy – nothing to do with the free glass(es) of wine at the Dagger In The Library presentation – and I was becoming convinced that I hadn’t actually read it before. I certainly couldn’t remember it, so I figured, what the heck? It’s been a while since Dame Agatha featured on the blog – almost a year in fact – so why not?

Why not indeed? Because I agree with everything Dolores said about the book. It’s a fast moving thriller – be warned, it’s not exactly a traditional Christie mystery, despite having a strong whodunit element. Capture, escape, attempted murder, and so on.

Bobby and Frances are entertaining leads, bouncing off each other nicely, with, as Dolores said, Christie clearly having a bundle of fun as the story goes along. The leads have the potential to be massively irritating, but Christie neatly sidesteps this, something that she doesn’t always achieve with Tommy and Tuppence, who could have easily been inserted in this story in lieu of the leads.

All in all, a lot of fun – a bit lightweight, but none the worse for that. Recommended, especially if you need a bit of fun. Thanks, Dolores.

27 comments

  1. Christie fan that I am, there are several of her titles of the “thriller” variety that I need to get much more familiar with: this one, The Man in the Brown Suit, The Secret of Chimneys, and The Seven Dials Mystery. I’ve read them all exactly once, and I need to wrap my head around them more. Of them all, Dials was my favorite – great twist!!! But this one seemed, as you say, “lightweight.” I’m so due for a revisit! Thanks, PD! (And what a great way to spend a train ride!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m shocked! I mean, that looks like a Tom Adams cover that actually bears a lot of relevance to the plot! What the hell’s going on??!!

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    • Don’t you just hate it when a book cover doesn’t bear any resemblance to the story at hand? For example, on the recent Harpercollins book cover for [i]Lord Edgware Dies[/i], the displayed weapon is a gun but there is no such thing in the book. Not one gun, that I know of, shows up so I’m wondering just how in the world the illustrator came up with that. Just goes to show that someone didn’t read the book or read a synopsis of the story.

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      • Infelicities in cover art bother me less than inaccuracy in synopses, I have to say; being promised a particular type of book on the back only to find it nowhere between the covers is the far harder crime to forgive. Cover art is about communicating a mood — these Adams covers are a perfect and enduring example of mood over accuracy — but the book should at least correctly convey the basics of the plot. Grrrr, etc.

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  3. I re-read this quite a few years ago, but don’t remember it not being fairly-clued, apart from the fact that the main clue pertaining to the dying message was not something the reader could work out on his or her own? But I’m always glad when lesser-known titles are being recommended. The very first Christie title I heard about was ‘Orient Express’, but now that I’ve read almost her entire oeuvre I’m not sure it would make its way into my top 5 – apart from the creative solution/ ending.

    Anyway, Puzzle Doctor, I know this isn’t quite on-topic, but I’ve been saving up to make a purchase of a rare-and-expensive Rhode title, and I thought I would ask you first: if you had a top three Rhode ranking, which would they be? I know you had a post with ten or so highly recommended titles, but since I’ll be sinking quite alot of money I thought I would check with you which of those would belong to the exceptional (and not just very good) category…

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  4. This may have been the first Christie I ever read, having watched the TV adaptation (circa 1980 and which was a bit of a big deal at the time) so I was a pre-teen. I thought it was OK but I always preferred the mysteries to the thrillers. Never re-read it though …

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    • JFW hasn’t reviewed it here, but I did! Here – https://classicmystery.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/shot-at-dawn-by-john-rhode/. The Rhode review index is here – https://classicmystery.wordpress.com/classic-bibliographies/john-rhode/

      I agree, it’s a very good outing from Rhode with a very effective ending – I just ever so slightly prefer the beautiful simplicity of Robthorne or Hop Fields, or the shaggy dog story of Peril At Cranbury Hall.

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      • I’d love to hijack Puzzle Doctor’s review site and claim all the insights to be mine, but alas… 😛

        Anyway, thanks for all the recommendations of top Rhode novels. I’m afraid ‘Robthorne’ was three times more than my already-expanded/ generous budget, and I couldn’t find copies of ‘Hop Field’ or ‘Death on the Board’. So I settled for ‘Peril at Cranbury Hall’ at a much higher price than I normally would entertain – but still a third of what ‘Robthorne’ was going for.

        Puzzle Doctor – I was slightly surprised that ‘Cranbury Hall’ didn’t make your top three recommendations, as it won a few accolades for 2016 on your blog. But I suppose it got outstripped by ‘Board’, ‘Hop Field’ and ‘Robthorne’? 🙂

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      • I’d only get to read ‘Cranbury Hall’ only at the end of the year, due to postal and shipping arrangements. I do hope I enjoy it, given the amount invested. 😛 I recently finished ‘Death at Harley Street’, and feel slightly ambivalent about it.

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  5. Sorry for the error! Good luck on the hunt. Re: Two Graphs, as I recollect they have to do with blood sugar levels. And twins. It’s a pretty good later one, with one of his better women characters.

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    • I think Cranbuey Hall, being a little different, appealed to me so much after I’d read two or three very standard Rhode books, so I was a little resigned to “interesting but a bit routine” so it was the one that convinced me there was some really special books out there

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  6. Believe it or not, this is actually one of my favorite Christies, Doc.

    (After having stated my fondness for Beneath Suspicion on JJ’s blog, I suppose I feel like the group heretic–mea maxima culpa, appropriately! 🙂 )

    I’m beginning to think that, with several notable exceptions (e.g., Death on the Nile, Five Little Pigs), I prefer Christie’s non-series work the best. I’m a huge fan of this, Endless Night, The Pale Horse, and of course Ten Little Indians.

    I just think Evans is one of her most fun books, and with a good (albeit not great) plot to boot. It’s what Christie was trying to do with Tommy and Tuppence, but I think it’s actually better than any of the “real” T&T books.

    By the way, the TV adaptation, with the always-excellent Francesca Annis and James Warwick (by the way, has anyone seen Miss Annis’s Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s film adaptation? Superb), is very good indeed.

    Oh, and P.S., Doc: Many thanks for your Death in Paradise reviews. I always check them after watching each episode!

    Karl

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love this title, though I always preferred the original, The Boomerang Clue. It was fun following Frankie and Bobby as they got to the bottom of the mystery. “Why didn’t they ask Evans” has to be one of the best verbal dying clues ever!

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