Death Comes as the End
By Agatha Christie
Review by Flo (Oriental Studies)
This is a novel set in Ancient Egypt, about a household on the West Bank at Thebes. Its written by Agatha Christie, so of course there is death and drama. However, what makes this book interesting is that it is actually based around real documentary evidence: the Heqenakhte Papyri. These are a group of letters from the Middle Kingdom found in the tomb complex of the Vizier Ipi. They are from a priest, Heqenakhte, to his family members, concerning the running of his household and including domestic squabbles! I would recommend reading a translation of the letters and then reading this novel. The thing with letters is that we are only getting told a fraction of the story so there is lots left to the imagination. Christie certainly creates a great story!
It is really interesting to think about how Ancient Egypt has inspired modern writers and artists. There are a lot of really trashy Egyptian novels out there that exoticise Ancient Egypt. However, I think that Death Comes as the End is pretty accurate in terms of historical context, especially given that it was written in the 1940s. But after all, Christie was married to an archaeologist!
Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie