sparklingSparkling Cyanide (aka Remembered Death) by Agatha Christie

*spoiler free guarantee*

Six people gather at a swanky 40’s era nightclub to celebrate the birthday of the title character, the beautiful but self-absorbed Rosemary Barton, who gracefully lifts her champagne glass for a birthday toast at midnight and drops dead on the expensive silk tablecloth the very next minute.

This novel was originally the Hercule Poirot short story Yellow Iris, with similar settings and characters but a completely different ending. Poirot doesn’t appear in the novel. I have a particular fondness for both versions of the story, and the novel is notable in that it presents a different form of storytelling than the typical mystery. In Part One, the six characters who were present when Rosemary died each tell their story of what happened that fateful night and the months preceding it. In this way the genteel reader is given insight into the lives and minds of the suspects and may, perhaps, begin piecing together the jigsaw puzzle toward the eventual conclusion of the mystery. The remaining two parts of the novel revert to the usual straightforward style of a murder mystery, telling us “what happens next” and keeping us turning pages until the satisfactory conclusion is reached, in deft Agatha Christie style.

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