By Agatha Christie
A book review by Jackie Houchin
DESTINATION UNKNOWN, formerly titled SO MANY STEPS, is an interesting read with an atmosphere of tension almost from the first page. A woman, flying from London to Casablanca in the throes of despair because of a recent humiliating divorce and the sudden death of her young daughter, plans to end her life in a city where no one knows or cares about her.
Her flight is delayed, however, because of fog and she takes another, only to learn that the first plane took off and crashed, killing a woman. She feels cheated that she hadn’t been the one to die. She, who had nothing to live for, lived on. Eventually she arrives in Morocco, and after a final meal in her hotel, she lays out the pile of sleeping pills with a drink and prepares to die.
But a stranger interrupts her plans and offers her another way to end her life; one that will also help her country. Intrigued, she accepts, and so begins a story of decption, suspense, and fear. It is at once Shangra La or Utopia, but with shades of Le Carre and Alistair MacLean: an eye-opening horror story, a clueless puzzler, and a twisted spy thriller.
UNKNOWN DESTINATION is not your typical Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot cozy, but a tale of a world coming into an age of “super” races, atom bombs, and germ warfare. Scary.
But, you guessed it, Christie gives her readers a very satisfying ending. With even a touch of romance. Yes, love conquers all. Almost.