Narrator: Hugh Fraser
Series: Colonel Race #4
Published by HarperAudio on July 3, 2012 (first published 1944)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 6 hrs 31 mins
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In Sparkling Cyanide, Agatha Christie seats six—including a murderer—around a dining table set for seven, one year to the day that a beautiful heiress was poisoned in that very room.
Six people sit down to a sumptuous meal at a table laid for seven. In front of the empty place is a sprig of rosemary—"rosemary for remembrance." A strange sentiment considering no one is likely to forget the night, exactly a year ago, that Rosemary Barton died at exactly the same table, her beautiful face unrecognizable, convulsed with pain and horror.
But then Rosemary had always been memorable—she had the ability to arouse strong passions in most people she met. In one case, strong enough to kill. . . .
I love the title Sparkling Cyanide. Christie’s titles don’t tend to be particularly noticeable, but Sparkling Cyanide stands out. It captures clearly the method of murder – cyanide in the champagne, and it’s a bit glamorous.
Rosemarie died a year ago, presumably suicide. She was a beautiful woman, but her death benefitted several people. Her husband, George, truly loved her, in spite of her affairs, and has come to believe that she was actually murdered. Any one who was at the dinner the night she died could have done it – her lover or his scorned wife, her sister Iris who stands to inherit, the husband’s trusted secretary, or a rather shady “friend” who, a year later is making moves on Iris. George organizes a second dinner party, with the same people, hoping to force a confession. It all goes terribly wrong when George is killed too.
Colonel Race, a friend of George’s, helps in the investigation. He doesn’t actually do much, but he is on the hero moment when the third victim is saved. I was surprise by the whodunit, although I shouldn’t have been. It made sense and, thinking back, the clues were there. I should have suspected them but didn’t. The thing is, they were all legitimate suspects. There was a small piece of the solution that I’m not sure would really have happened, but who am I to quibble?
Christie doesn’t let us really care too much about the characters, even the sympathetic ones. Her plots are outstanding, her characters, aside from her detectives, are simply okay. I’m not really rooting for or against any of them. I’m not saying that’s bad – it allows us to suspect everyone, which is necessary with Christie. You never know when the innocent young woman is going to be the killer.