Pub. Date: March 13, 2018
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Atria!)
Summary: Two months after the events of A Talent for Murder, during which Agatha Christie “disappeared,” the famed mystery writer’s remarkable talent for detection has captured the attention of British Special Agent Davison.
Now, at his behest, she is traveling to the beautiful Canary Islands to investigate the strange and gruesome death of Douglas Greene, an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. As she embarks on a glamorous cruise ship to her destination, she suddenly hears a scream. Rushing over to the stern of the liner, she witnesses a woman fling herself over the side of the ship to her death.
After this shocking experience, she makes it to the Grand Hotel in a lush valley on the islands. There, she meets a diverse and fascinating cast of characters, including two men who are suspected to be involved in the murder of Douglas Greene: an occultist similar to Aleister Crowley; and the secretary to a prominent scholar, who may also be a Communist spy. But Agatha soon realizes that nothing is what it seems here and she is surprised to learn that the apparent suicide of the young woman on the ocean liner is related to the murder of Douglas Greene.
Genre: Historical Mystery
When I was first contacted about participating in the tour for this book, I couldn’t have been more excited. A mystery series featuring Agatha Christie?! UM YES PLEASE!
1927, the Canary Islands. The deadline for The Mystery of the Blue Train is rapidly approaching, headlines back home in England are abuzz with her mysterious 11-day disappearance, and her husband has recently taken up with another woman. Agatha Christie needs to get away. Unfortunately, her novels seem to have a way of playing out in real life: not only has she just witnessed a desperate young woman jump off a ship into the treacherous waters below, but she herself stumbled upon a second body. As Agatha digs deeper into the two deaths, she begins to believe the two are linked – but how?
I’ll admit that while I was looking forward to diving into this one – it seemed practically written for me! – once I started reading, I was a bit underwhelmed. Now, I’m the kind of reader that doesn’t feel the need to start with the first book in a series: my introduction to Rhys Bowen’s delightful Molly Murphy series was the 17th book, while I began the Aunt Dimity series with the 20th installment! Going into A Different Kind of Evil, I wasn’t concerned at all, it’s only the second book, what could I possibly be missing? …as it turns out, quite a bit. This sequel takes place a mere two months after the events of the first book and calls back to it more often than not. To the point where I had a hard time following the story. I had to set it aside more than once and nearly set it down for good. It wasn’t until well into the second half of the book that I really got my bearings and became invested in the mystery.
The cast of characters was great. Agatha, her nanny, her young daughter. The handsome widow of the young woman who jumped off the ship (and the illicit affair going on between him and the woman’s best friend), the local inspector, a sketchy doctor. One character in particular was especially devious: not only was he an occultist, but he also kept a garden of poison plants – and was possibly carrying on an intimate relationship with his own daughter?? With the exception of the incest storyline, these personalities were all ones familiar to readers of cozy mysteries and I enjoyed getting to know each one.
I was thinking about this book one night before bed and realized that, while I love books about Jane Austen novels and characters and retellings, I’ve never actually read an original and honestly have no interest. The opposite might hold true for Agatha Christie. If you know me, you know I’m absolutely obsessed with all things Poirot. Years ago I actually did a History 101 post about Agatha’s 11-day disappearance! Unfortunately, I’m wondering if retellings and spin offs simply can’t cut it: back in January I was thrilled to receive an anthology of early crime stories written by woman…sadly, In the Shadow of Agatha Christie turned out to be an DNF. While I wouldn’t neccesarily say A Different Kind of Evil is on that level – or bad at all! – it never captivated me as I had hoped it would and I do feel like I missed out on a good portion of the novel by not having read the first. I’m still intrigued by the premise and I can’t say no to Agatha, so perhaps one day I’ll try again, this time beginning with book one.