Book Review

Review of Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

The Book Front Cover of Sparkling Cyanide (Copyright, Authorel, Saswati Chakraborty, 2015)
I have always enjoyed reading detective stories and the famous novelist Agatha Christie is one of my favorites, among other authors. This is because; Christie successfully combines suspense, mystery, crime, and thriller, all together in her stories. Be it Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple cases, the mysteries of Agatha Christie are always well spun and spread around the network of the characters, whom she introduces in the very first beginning of the story. ‘Sparkling Cyanide’ is no such exception from this tradition of Christie; however, this story is a little different in that it lacks the character of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. 

The first page of the Story, animated and digitized to indicate the mystery and suspense surrounding the story (Copyright, Authorel, Saswati Chakraborty, 2015) 
It is a murder mystery, which revolves around the story of Rosemary Barton. “Rosemary stands for remembrance” and from the beginning to end, the name Rosemary is linked with memories, remembrance and evidences (sprig of rosemary). The story starts with the suicide of a beautiful heiress Rosemary Barton at Luxembourg Hotel on the “All Souls Day”. She died of cyanide poisoning in her wine. You have to read the whole book to understand, the reasons which caused Rosemary Barton to die suddenly. She was suffering from a bad flu and as the story-line describes her as a beautiful woman with not much complication, the readers are forced to think, why did Rosemary commit suicide after the attack of flu? Was it only the depression that she was suffering as explained by Dr. Gaskell or it was the result of some deep-seated vengeance? 

Iris, the younger sister of Rosemary inherited the huge fortune, which Rosemary once inherited from her godfather Hector Marle. After Rosemary’s death, few incidents left Rosemary’s husband George Barton perplexed and confused. He got some letters, with no identification where he came to know that Rosemary was murdered. When he started his investigation and was in the middle of it, he also died of cyanide poisoning, in the same Luxembourg Hotel where six guests gathered for the second time for celebrating Iris’s birthday with an empty chair. The day was ‘all soul’s day’ and the readers at this point may think that Rosemary’s soul  may have re-appeared to take George back with her. Readers remain surprised to find the occupancy of the empty chair, the person, who failed to keep the appointment and could not appear in the last moment. Why the person could not come is another mystery. 

As the story unfolds, the author gradually delves deeper into the character of each individual involved in the story line. The characters are Rosemary Barton (deceased), Iris Marle (Rosemary’s sister), George Barton (Rosemary’s husband), Mrs. Lucilla Drake (Rosemary and Iris’s paternal Aunt), Victor Drake (Son of Lucilla Drake), Stephen Farraday, Alexandra Farraday (Rosemary’s Friend), Lord and Lady Kidderminster, Anthony Browne (Rosemary’s Friend and later Iris’s Lover), Ruth Lessing (George Barton’s Secretory), Colonel Race. After reading about each character, it becomes clear that each of them has a strong motive to kill Rosemary Barton. However, who wrote those anonymous letters and why George died? 

I personally loved the character of Anthony Browne, who was a special character. As the story unravels, a lot was revealed about him.Very few people had information about this character and George Barton had a special disliking about him. Iris found a code name “Leopard” in one of an unfinished letter of Rosemary after her death while she was in the attic one day. She was unable to decide, whether Anthony was the “Leopard” as mentioned in the paper. 

The interesting fact about this novel of Agatha Christie is that this book contains a clear, vivid description of characters and brief interrogative sessions. This is the most approaching part of the book. In one of the Agatha Christie’s book “Hickory Dickory Dock” which I read last month, there are more than five characters and there are long, twisting interrogative sessions, which were simply boring. At some point, I was feeling rather reckless to complete the book as soon as possible. This did not happen with me this time. 

However, for those, who are Hercule Poirot fans or Miss Marple Fans, they will be little disappointed as this story has its own course of investigation conducted by Inspector Kemp and Colonel Race. There are no involvements of private detectives and observation or inclusion of small evidences. Till the end of the story, people will remain confused about the real antagonist. For those, like me who are avid readers, they can guess however, it will be based completely on the instincts, as no evidences are there by which you can conclude that who is the actual killer.

The Sparkling Effect given as per the Title of the Book Sparkling Cyanide (Copyright, Authorel, Saswati Chakraborty, 2015)
I recommend that one should read this book to have another flavor of Agatha Christie. A sparkling flavor and find out why the book is named as Sparkling Cyanide. I purchased this book from Kindle e-book store via Amazon, which took Rs 95/-. It is available now in Amazon (Kindle Edition) at Rs 105/- and 114/- and Paperback at Rs. 120.


  1. Great review of a popular author, you told us a bit about the plot and the characters, enough for us to make our own decisions about the story. I liked you said why you liked the book and how it was different form other works by this author. A good all round review.

    1. Thank you Rosie....Your comments indeed are very valuable for me....