How Koodathai murder is linked to a thriller by Agatha Christie?
The sensational murders of six family members in Koodathai of Kozhikode over a span of 14 years has a distant resemblance to the plot of a thriller penned by the renowned detective novelist Agatha Christie. The novel ‘Sparkling Cyanide’ published in 1945 reminds of the serial murders of family members which recently shook Kerala.
Similar to the murders in Koodathai, the murders in the novel also was committed using cyanide. The motive behind the murders was the wealth of the family. Though the time and situations for murder are different, the modus operandi of murder is similar in the novel and the Koodathai murder.
In ‘Sparkling Cyanide’, seven people were having food at a hotel named ‘Luxembourg’ on a fine day November 2. Among them, a woman named Rosemary Barton collapsed and died soon after having food. Everyone believes it was a suicide. After six months, Rosemary’s husband gets an anonymous letter stating that Rosemary’s death was not suicide, but a murder.
Her husband George decides to investigate the death. For this purpose, he recreated the dinner they had on the day of her death at the same restaurant. He also arranged an actress who looked like Rosemary to arrive at the dinner late and which surprised them.
But George’s plan to find out the murder fails and the actress participated in the dinner. On the first death anniversary of Rosemary, George also is killed in the same way at the same table after consuming poisoned champagne.
But George had already informed his friend colonel Race and based on this information, Col. Race and a lawyer of Iris, younger sister of Rosemary, finds out that the murders were planned in order to obtain the family wealth of Rosemary.
Rosemary was the heir of her uncle’s wealth. If she dies childless, the wealth will be passed on to her young unmarried sister Iris, and if Iris dies the next heir is her relative Lucilla Drake. Though Lucilla is a nice lady, her son Victor was a nasty fellow.
An investigation conducted by Col. Race and the lawyer finally finds out that George’s trusted secretary Ruth Lessing had fallen in love with Victor and it was they who plotted the murder. After Rosemary’s death, Ruth sent George the anonymous letter to make him recreate the dinner so that she can kill Iris in the same way. But it was George who consumed the poisoned champagne and died.
The murder used cyanide to kill the victims in the story which is why it was titled ‘Sparkling Cyanide’. Writer Agatha Christie developed the novel from her short story titled ‘Yellow Iris’. In the story, the crime is investigated by Hercule Poirot, the permanent detective in Agatha Christie novels. But when the novel was written, Poirot was replaced by Colonel Race. Sparkling Cyanide is also noted for the absence of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.