In this novel, Agatha Christie does what she does best: assembles a group of diverse characters on holiday, has one of them murdered, and provides the rest with plenty of opportunity and motive to have committed the crime.
Arlena Marshall is a beautiful woman known for her affairs with men, both before and during her marriage. While on holiday at the Jolly Roger Hotel on England's South Coast, she openly cavorts with Patrick Redfern while her husband and his wife watch helplessly. Tragedy is inevitable and few are surprised when Arlena is murdered.
What sets Christie apart from other mystery writers is the wonderful skill she exhibits with characterizations. This novel, one of her best in my opinion, is complete with many well-developed ones which make for a believable crime. Miss Rosamund Darnley, a talented dress designer, and Mr. and Mrs. Odell Gardener, the outspoken American woman and her long-suffering husband, are just a few of the many who fill this story. And of course, the famous detective Hercule Poirot also happens to be on holiday here at the time of the murder. Everybody is a suspect as voodoo practices, drug-smuggling, religious mania, and two murders from the past add intrigue.
The book was adapted to the big screen in 1982 with Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, Dianna Rigg as Arlena Marshall, and Maggie Smith, Roddy McDowall, James Mason, Colin Blakely, and Jane Birkin also starring. A new made-for-tv version will air in 2001 with David Suchet as Poirot and Hugh Fraser as Arthur Hastings.