While Agatha Christie is best-known for her sleuths like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, there are also some hidden gems among her “standalone” novels. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Is a thoroughly enjoyable read, anchored by the terrific chemistry between the protagonists – lifelong friends Bobby Jones, son of the local vicar, and Lady Frances Derwent.
The mystery begins when, Bobby Jones, while playing golf with a Dr. Thomas, discovers a man who has fallen over a cliff below one of the holes. While Dr. Thomas runs to get help, the dying man looks at Bobby ,suddenly opens his eyes and mutters “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” he then falls into the chains of death. Soon, the fun loving, adventurous duo of Bobby and Frankie are on a trail to find out the answers. Unfortunately, asking the wrong people sends the amateur sleuths running for their lives.
The first forty pages might leave a few readers a little underwhelmed. But once the storyline gets going, it is sure to leave anyone hooked with the quick pace that rapidly follows. One thing that shows quite clearly is how much of her style JK Rowling got from Agatha Christie. In terms of characters, Christie offers a lot for any contemporary writer to learn from. In fact, the duo of Bobby and Frankie complement each other quite well and their relationship, particularly the way they constantly spar and view their case, portrays Christie’s mastery at creating characters that are well-rounded and deep.
Leaving aside the romance, even the mystery is intriguing and original. The twists and turns are sure to keep readers guessing until the very last page. Unlike some of her other novels, Christie drops little clues here and there in between chapters regarding the villain’s inconsistency in his story. This makes the reader feel that they are on the trail along with the characters, sleuthing along with Frankie and Bobbie.
However, keeping up with how the large cast of characters is related can be a bit confusing if you’re not focused on the story. Though the story takes a bizarre turn three-quarters of the way through, it’s fast-paced and quite humorous throughout. By the end of the novel, the guilty parties have become apparent, but that doesn’t detract from one’s enjoyment of the tale in the least – watching Bobby and Frankie survive their excursion into the detective world is far too entertaining.
This is a novel that promises to keep on the edge of their seats. A pleasant read that doesn’t end up taking too much time to finish, this is one of Christie’s finest.
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