They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie: a Book Review

I made copious notes as I read Agatha Christie’s They Came to Baghdad because it’s such a complex plot and there seemed to be so many significant events and people that I wanted to clarify what was happening. This is not one of Agatha Christie’s detective novels – no Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot,-  just Victoria Jones, a short-hand typist, a courageous girl with a ‘natural leaning towards adventure’ and a tendency to tell lies. Set in 1950 this is a story about international espionage and conspiracy. The heads of the ‘great powers‘ are secretly meeting in Baghdad, where if it all goes wrong ‘the balloon will go up with a vengeance.’ And an underground criminal organisation is out to make sure it does go wrong, aiming at ‘total war – total destruction. And then – the new Heaven and the new Earth.’

Victoria gets involved after one meeting with a young man, Edward, who is going out to Baghdad the following day to join an archaeological dig. She thinks he’s an incredibly good-looking man and considering herself an excellent judge of character is immediately attracted to him. As she has just been fired from her job, impulsively she decides to follow him to Baghdad, claiming to be the niece of Dr Pauncefoot Jones, Richard’s boss .

At the same time a British secret agent, Carmichael, is trying to get to Baghdad with important information, and is his life is in great danger. Will he get there? Anna Scheele, a mysterious character is also on her way to Baghdad and there are hints that she is at the centre of things. Just who is she and what side is she on?

Alongside the mystery, Agatha Christie’s descriptions of the locations, local people and of the archaeological dig are superb, no doubt taken from her experience of her own visits to Baghdad and Iraq. I enjoyed it for its entertaining plot, the authenticity of the background and its great characters, in particular I grew very fond of the amazing Victoria Jones.

  • First published in 1951 by William Collins & Co Ltd
  • My copy a secondhand paperback Fontana Books, 1980
  • My Rating: 4/5

5 thoughts on “They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie: a Book Review”

  1. I have this on audio CD, read by Emilia Fox. It’s quite good and Agatha Christie always writes well about the places she visited as part of her archaelogical travels.

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  2. Margaret – A fine review- thanks! That’s one of the things I always admire about Christie. She wasn’t afraid to tackle complex plots like this one. And I have to agree with you about Victoria Jones :-).

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  3. This sounds like what I like best about Agatha Christie. You learn a lot about a place the way it was nearly a hundred years ago. The atmosphere and characters together are wonderful. I should read this one.

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