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Book Name: Passenger to Frankfurt

Author: Agatha Christie

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Overall Rating: (3.64/5) View all reviews (total 11 reviews)
Description

'Marvellously entertaining' OBSERVER 'It is not an impossible story - it is only a fantastic one.' AGATHA CHRISTIE

Reviews

Good stuff

by JR
(4/5)

I really liked this story and the plot was exceptional. The only thing that upset me was the sort of muddled ending. It felt rushed and hurried. She should have left the mystery open with no conclusion. That might have worked better. It was nice to see Mr Robinson again and his trail of money theories. If you don't expect the usual murder mystery, jump into this on different terms and enjoy the excellent narrative style and as usual, the more than fascinating characters. That grotesque Charlotte woman was a real kick in the pants


A Weak Book

by J. Smallridge
(1/5)

This mystery is too slowly paced to be of much joy for a reader. However, it is vintage Christie so it is worth reading as a mystery if one cares to make the slog.


Backwards into the Past

by Kevin Killian
(4/5)

I remnember when this book came out and I, a child at the time, knew something was sadly wrong with Agatha Christie. For years I couldn't look this book in the face. But after reading Laura Thompson's new biography of Christie, in which Thompson writes vigorously of PASSENGER as Christie's late, brilliant modernist masterpiece, I decided to give it another shot. This time I decided to read it backwards, hoping to be able to follow the action a little better if I knew what to look for.Do you know, it works very well this way!I remain sympathetic to the complaint of the reader from April 2003 who said that a large group of good guys (none of them the book's three main good characters) trap a pair of the bad guys. You would think that at least one of the main people (Stafford Nye, Matilda or Renata) would show up at the finale in the Scottish highlands but I guess not. I was still shocked out of my wits at the unmasking! And then, reading backwards, I discovered that I had many, many chapters still to go before the other unmasking, when you find out about the big Hitler cult of the golden Siegfried boy from South America! So for an ordinary reader this would come about halfway through the book the other way, and then you'd be treading water while Admiral Blunt met with Mr. Robinson and Mr. Horsham met with Edward Altamount, et cetera, et cetera, lots of conversations, most of them quite grave.I also realized that at heart PASSENGER is a sort of rewrite of Christie's 1958 play VERDICT, her famous flop play which still holds a special place in my heart. PASSENGER devolves, liek VERDICT, into the story of a refugee woman called Lisa, escaped from Hitler's terror, who becomes the assistant to a great scientist based in the British Isles, and who falls in love with him even though he is fairly distant to her. This sort of Celia Johnson passion must have meant a lot to Christie, and here she gives Lisa (in VERDICT her name was Lisa, too!) the happy ending she was otherwise denied. I had the satisfying sense of a door closing, that perfect click when something unsettled finds its own true way home.


Muddled.

by Kriti Godey
(2/5)

In There is a Tide, Poirot remarks to Superintendent Spence that it's always the human interest that gets him. I think that is what I like so much about Agatha Christie's books - her incisive and almost brutal analyses of all the people in her books. This is especially well achieved in her books about murders within families. Unfortunately, that's also what this book lacks.Passenger to Frankfurt seems to be Agatha Christie's attempt to write a thriller. I am not sure how many of these non-murder mystery books she's written; this is the first one I've read. It follows a global conspiracy to control the world, reviving Nazism along the way. The protagonist is a British diplomat, who is aided by a beautiful female spy.The book features some traditional Christie trademarks, like the couple falling in love, and some incisive commentary about the players in the conspiracy. However, most of it felt muddled and incomprehensible, and a little dated. I think Christie's brand of sensationalism works really well for small towns, but doesn't translate well to global events. I also didn't really understand how each event led to the next, and there were way too many characters introduced, so I couldn't keep track of who was who. The narrative wasn't cohesive, with viewpoints being switched erratically.I'd stick to Christie's murder mysteries.


A headlong breakneck rush into rational and relaxed debate

by Michael Battaglia
(5/5)

Following up "The Rebel Worlds", one of the better Terran Empire stories, was an interesting move. Removing Dominic Flandry, one of his most famous characters, from the return visit was a gutsy one. Most of the Terran Empire era stories work because they have someone with personality to spare at the helm driving the action in the plot. Turning the spotlight on other people runs the risk of losing us entirely if we're not emotionally invested enough in the stakes at hand. And, as if to prove a point he never set out to make, that almost happens.Still, it makes sense. Flandry rarely visited the same place twice and examining events in the aftermath of one of the more heated incidents in the saga. And the premise is sound: Aeneas as a planet is a bit shellshocked after discovering that not only did their rebellion fail but that the whole rebellion may have been a Mersian plot to get back at the Empire that only got as far as it did because it got out of hand and ran away from the people who initiated it. While they try to come to grips with it as a people, meanwhile the local government from the Empire on the ground is figuring out how they can smooth things over, bring them fully back into the Empire and not be, you know, hated.To do this, Anderson divides the plot into three as we follow Ivan, a "Firstling" who can be used to spark a new rebellion or bring everyone together depending on who gets to him first, Desai, the local Terran commander who doesn't want to make everyone miserable but has to ensure that calmer rule prevails and the Empire gets its way, and Jaan, a former shoemaker who has apparently become possessed by the godlike "Builders" and is spreading the word that the decision everyone makes can bring the whole world to transcendence. We then proceed to watch all three wander around somewhat aimlessly.This isn't entirely true. But the bulk of the novel oscillates between Desai figuring out the best way to move forward, Jaan having constant visions of a philosophical nature and Ivan mostly running from place to place experiencing all the various cultures of the planet. Along the way everyone debates with everyone they encounter the implications of past and future actions, and attempt to discover everyone's motivations and how that can affect things. It's all very interesting but not really viscerally exciting, especially because while Ivan is on the run, it never quite feels that way. There's very little sense of urgency to his portions of the plot and since which way he will jump is the central node the story pivots on, it sucks a bit of the life out of things.In that sense, and I rarely say this, the book probably needs to be longer. The various elements percolate and circle each other, but there's a constant sense of things about to happen as opposed to events actually transpiring and by the time events do begin to occur, the book is basically over and we're into the cleanup and aftermath. What it probably needed was a deeper examination of the world and the cultures, as well as a sharper sense of the stakes needed, of a world about to tip over the edge and not sure which way it's going to fall. Anderson still excels in realizing that worlds are not crafted of a single monolithic culture (a rarity in SF) and populates the planet with a few distinct sets of peoples. Unfortunately it leads to a bit of a travelogue sense of things, where Ivan finishes hanging out with the local gypsies and then proceeds to pal around with the analogues for Eastern mystics, and so on. That breakneck sense of things about to go wrong that characterized "The Rebel Worlds" is missing, and while it makes the novel a quiet and ruminative piece, I'm not entirely sure that's what he set out to do.Yet, it has its moments. He gets great mileage out of including Aycharaych, Flandry's mortal enemy. Having seen him in other stories, as soon as he pops up its a red flag that something is about to go wrong and there's a delicious moment of intensity where the Terrans realize that the guy they just let walk out the door is probably the most dangerous person on the planet and they need to go track him down. Yet it's another sign of the relaxed pace of the novel that the urgency such a situation engenders falls by the wayside and winds up being submerged until the very end. Also having Aycharaych involved tends to telegraph the ultimate twist of the book but I don't think that aspect of the plot was ever more than a feint anyway.Still, what Anderson does he does so well it pretty much salvages the lack of excitement. He's got a better grasp of how galactic politics would work than most of his contemporaries did, and he writes aliens with their own distinctive world-views that aren't immediately understandable. Aycharaych livens things up with menace, and the presence of a xenobiological of the bird-like Ythrians adds another layer to scenes that would normally be just Ivan walking around and waiting for the plot to catch up to him.If there is a complaint I would make in retrospect (keeping in mind these novels are long written and Anderson long and sadly departed from us) its that this section of the saga dealing with the Terran Empire is a bit monotone in its adversaries. When we get to the meat of it, it is yet another Mersian plot, just like every other story in this sequence. When read all broken apart it probably isn't as noticeable (especially since Anderson wrote hundreds of other books) but when you're reading them in order it takes the element of surprise away a bit and replaces it with "Oh, them again."But it's a good example on how to write a nice, concise political thriller set in the far future, and what it lacks in action it makes up for in all the other qualities Anderson brought to his writing. His skill in that respect is kind of invisible, the kind you don't realize how well he's doing it until you see someone else doing it poorly.


Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie

by Molly
(5/5)

"Passenger to Frankfurt," when it was first published, was advertised as Christie's 80th book for her 80th year. It was one of the last books she wrote, and it was published when she turned 80. It should be one of the last books of hers that the reader should take on, because it is not classic Christie, but is rather a look inside her head, one a devoted fan like me is eager to see. She says, "There is the insidious cult of permissiveness, there is the increasing cult of violence. Violence not as a means of gaining money, but violence for the love of violence." It was written in the late 60's, published in 1970, at a time when there was a great deal of youth unrest in the world. At that time there were also rumors that Hitler may not be dead. As she usually did, she wrote for the times in this book. It is a spy story about the possibility of Hitler's surviving son trying to follow in his father's footsteps. It talks about wicked people taking advantage of the naive youth to take over the world. It has a lot of characters who tend to be unconnected and is much slower than usual. Nevertheless it was a smashing success at the time. As always her writing is skillful and thoughtful. It is well worth reading, but is better for the reader who has already fallen in love with Agatha.


Good Companion for Airline Travel

by Mrs. Chips
(5/5)

I have a battered copy of Passenger to Frankfurt. I should have kept count of how many air miles it has logged with me and others I have loaned it to. This is not your average Agatha Christie mystery. It reads like a Balkan romance, only the time period is wrong. The hints of nobility, mistaken identity, and damsel in distress all combine to make entertaining reading. One is faintly reminded of the Scarlet Pimpernel by the larger-than-life hero. He wears a cape, no kidding! Part of his disguise is his outrageous dress. It is fantastical, but then any story would be that postulates the re-birth of the Third Reich.


Perhaps not the worst she's written ... but it's the worst I've read!

by Paul Weiss
(2/5)

With over 80 detective novels to her credit, not to mention an enormous number of short stories, plays and even romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, Agatha Christie is, by any conceivable standard, a prolific author. Therefore, it follows as a logical inevitability that something she wrote must be classed as "the best" and something else as "the worst". I can't claim to have read everything the good lady wrote but, of those novels that I have read, "Passenger to Frankfurt" easily qualifies as the worst of the bunch.Stafford Nye, a rather shiftless, easygoing member of Britain's diplomatic corps who, by his own admission, enjoys a good joke and takes life rather less than seriously, encounters a mysterious woman in the airport in Frankfurt. Appealing to his chivalrous instincts and his desire for a bit of an adventure, she persuades him to let her steal his passport and boarding pass and use them to travel to England to avoid what she claims would be her likely murder if she travelled to Switzerland on her previously intended route.Starting from this preposterously unlikely opening scenario, Christie takes us on a pointless, meandering, achingly repetitive "thriller" that actually constitutes a personal diatribe - the aging dowager authoress's post 1960s current outlook on the world as she rather bleakly perceived it. Neo-fascism, youth rebellion, drugs, violence, armament smuggling, hippies, skinheads and megalomaniacal financial tycoons bent on world domination all make their appearance in a novel whose plot never truly crystallizes into anything concrete.The current Wikipedia article on "Passenger to Frankfurt" quotes Robert Barnard, a crime writer and contemporary of Agatha Christie, who categorized this novel as "the last of the thrillers, and one that slides from the unlikely to the inconceivable and finally lands up in incomprehensible muddle."I couldn't agree more. Not recommended.Paul Weiss


goes absolutely nowhere, but i still love it

by RachelWalker "RachelW"
(5/5)

this book goes practically nowhere at all, and is slightly confusing really, as to whose side everyone is on, etc.But, it is not the bad book that most of these reviews seem to make it out as.In all honesty, it really doesnt deserve the five star rating i have given it. In fact, four stars is a more accurate estimation of it's quality, but i have given it five stars to "raise the average". because it really doesnt deserve the two and a bit stars which it currently has.This book has some real plusses. It is brilliantly written. The language Christie uses is probably the best of all her novels. It is more well written and literary than some of them. There are some great characters (Stafford Nye, Mary Anne, Countess Wauldsausen (who we see unfortunately little of)) who really inspire interest in what is a rather perplexing plot. Perplexing why? Because there is actuall no real plot. It goes almost nowhere, and seems a bit pointless. Just written as a device to air some of Christie's views on the way society is sliding down the drain.Which is where the book does the major credit. The social observations, passages about the state of the world, its climate, its politics, the attitude of its people, its governments, is intensely interesting. Christie's take on the new "youth" is very interesting. Anarchy and rebellion ar ethe order of the day, and they do permeate this book with a strange sense of fear. Fear for the future, and what it holds for us in this strangely unstable world.This plot has a huge scope, exploring diplomacy, politics, forms of rule, government, vision for the future, and the state of the world. In that, it is truly excellent. The foreboding, doom, hopelessness of things is brought across well. This book also has a high count of people "just trying to do the right thing" in spite of so many people who disagree with them.so, as a plot driven novel, its not good. But, as a novel driven by ideas and notions about the state of world politics, then it is excellent. It's interesting, thought-provoking, with some great characters, and a nice prose style.A very different Christie book, and for all it's faults, it is one of the "great" ones. (As opposed to one of the "excellent" or "good" ones.)


Hijacking the Plot

by RCM "beckahi"
(4/5)

While Agatha Christie is best known for her mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, she also tried her hand at other stories that weren't straightforward mysteries. Such is the case with "Passenger to Frankfurt", a novel that could more appropriately be termed a thriller, but also one that doesn't quite live up to Dame Christie's usual standards. From the very beginning, the novel has an unusual premise, but as the story progresses, the plot becomes too sidetracked with tangential stories and characters.Sir Stafford Nye arrives at Frankfurt Airport due to a fog delay; as he sits waiting for his flight back to England, he speaks with a mysterious young woman who has a proposition for him - she needs to get into England unnoticed or she will be killed, and wishes to borrow his passport and cloak. Sir Stafford Nye, wishing for a little adventure, accepts the deal, only to come up against more questions than answers on his return. He seeks out this passenger to try to find out the truth, only to find himself swept up and recruited for some political intrigue. Always game, Sir Stafford Nye agrees to help out this mysterious woman, and his government, to unveil a plot that reeks of world domination.And that is exactly where the plot of "Passenger to Frankfurt" gets sidetracked: the first portion of the book is excellently crafted and mysterious, a testament to Christie's ability to weave an opening that keeps you in suspense, but the story begins to fall apart after Sir Stafford Nye accepts his new role as a secret agent. The main problem is that these two characters who've been developed so far almost completely disappear from the book, and the reader becomes a third wheel at meetings of important government people as they try to discover the mastermind behind this conspiracy. Instead of her well-crafted and intricately ingenious mysteries, the last half of "Passenger to Frankfurt" lacks almost any intrigue, and reads like a convoluted castoff from the Cold War, with a plot that involves neo-Nazis living in Argentina and striking up the world's youth to invest in total anarchy.There are some intriguing things that get said along the way: perhaps Christie just bit off more than she could chew with this novel, which reads too often like disparate storylines. The resolution comes too quickly, there is no build up to the epilogue, and very little to tie all of the threads together. I can very easily understand why many people do not like this book, but as a fan of Christie's writing, it is interesting to see her take on a different style.


Not Colonel Mustard did it in the library with a candlestick

by Roger Bagula "Roger L. Bagula"
(3/5)

This books seem to be failed James Bond type spy mystery with neonazis.Even the romance is bollixed between the two central upper class English types.The young Siegfried is a Wagnerian operatic leitmotif that forms a centralplot element. Even the secret weapon is nothing deadly...She seems to have completely misunderstood the youth movements of the 1960's.


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