Well this one was not as well done as Death on the Nile. I think it was because it was pretty obvious after one character's utterance who did the crime in this one.
Unlike with some other Poirot novels, Hercule really doesn't step up to the plate until about half way through the book. The first half is spent with two fellow doctors/travelers looking upon the weirdness that is the Boynton family.
Two of the characters, Sarah King and Dr. Gerad witness that the entire Boynton family, except for one member (Nadine, the daughter in law) seems to be in a high state of nerves to do the bidding of Mrs. Boynton. The family consists of an older son named Lennox, another brother named Raymond, and two girls named Carol and Ginevra.
Mrs. Boynton is described in malevolent terms and seems to have an odd hold over her entire family. Sarah finds herself infatuated and frustrated with Raymond and not understanding how the entire family lets Mrs. Boynton hold them in power. She does her best to pry them away from the woman, but decides that nothing can be done and continues on with her travels. Eventually all parties meet up in Petra and Mrs. Boynton ends up murdered (as one does when you seemed to have taken lessons from the Marquis de Sade) and Hercule Poirot is brought in to discover who murdered the woman.
I can honestly say I did not care at all about who murdered this woman. She sounded creepy and awful. Though we have Poirot and others saying it is not right for anyone to commit murder, one wonders how Poirot would have felt if he had ever met this woman while she was alive. And I liked how one of the characters called out Poirot for his hypocrisy on this case since apparently this person had heard about the events on the Murder on the Orient Express.
Poirot had very little to do in this one, he interviews everyone and makes up a timeline. From the very beginning after he sets up his interview I was able to figure out who did it and a probable case of why they did it.
The other characters in this book are not as richly drawn as those in Death on the Nile. Everyone was paper thin. I really didn't care for the character of Raymond or Sarah (who the heck falls in love after only speaking to each other for a few minutes) and Dr. Gerad sounded creepy as anything with his fixation on Ginerva Boynton.
I was interested in the character of Nadine and thought that she sounded like a smart and capable woman. Other than that, I felt meh about everyone else.
The writing was okay, but it got super repetitive after a while. Reading about Sarah and her feelings about Mrs. Boynton and Dr. Gerad's armchair diagnosis of everyone around him was quite boring. The flow was all over the place too. Sometimes the book moved quickly and then it slowed done to the most boring details.
Having this take place in Jordan and at Petra was interesting for Ms. Christie to do. Ms. Christie had obviously been here on her travels and actually for once adds in some details about Petra and how it looks and how tourists traveled there and stayed.
The epilogue left me feeling very dissatisfied and I think it was because at one point we are told one of the characters seemed to be going into a schizophrenic state, well guess what, a little time in a mental health facility and having the person go on to acting does not cure it. I was seriously baffled by that and that everyone was all honky dory in the end.