In the novel Appointment with Death, Sarah King is a young English doctor travelling in the Middle East. She meets both Hercule Poirot and the Boynton family, an American family tormented by the sadistic Mrs Boynton.
Sarah lives in Yorkshire, where she keeps some dogs. She had been brought up by an aunt.
Sarah has thick black hair which she wears back from her forehead, and big hazel eyes.
A month before the events of the novel, Sarah had broken off her engagement to a young doctor who was four years older than her. They had been attracted to each other, but were too alike in temperament. Sarah had believed that she admired strength, and had told herself that she wanted to be mastered, but when she met a man capable of mastering her, she did not like it. They had quarrelled often.
Sarah broke off the engagement because she knew that mutual attraction was not enough on which to build a lifetime of happiness. She treated herself to an interesting holiday to help her move on from the break up.
Sarah met Dr Gérard when travelling from Cairo, when he helped her carry one of her suitcases at a moment when no porter was available. She had also talked to Raymond Boynton on the train from Kantara. She thought there was something not quite normal about him, and about the Boynton family. She later pointed the Boynton family out to Dr Gérard, in the lounge at the Solomon Hotel, in Jerusalem.
As Sarah walks past the Boynton family, Raymond turns his head away from her, and she is annoyed by this avoidance. She considers him rude, stuck-up and boorish, and thinks it is ridiculous for him to be so under the thumb of his family. She thinks that he needs rescuing, and decides that she will see to it.
Sarah later speaks to Carol Boynton, and tells her to come to her room at night, after the family has gone to bed. She hopes that she can imbue Carol and Raymond with the spirit of revolt through secret meetings, but is disappointed when Mrs Boynton stops Carol from having anything more to do with her.
Sarah later approaches Mrs Boynton, and tells her that trying to prevent Raymond and Carol from making friends with her is very silly and childish. She tells Mrs Boynton that she could still have a lot of fun, and that it is much better to be friendly and kind. Mrs Boynton responds that she never forgets, and has never forgotten anything.
On the day of the murder, Sarah and Dr Gérard go for a walk, with Jefferson Cope, and members of the Boynton family. Sarah and Raymond eventually drift apart from the others. He then tells her that he is going back to the camp alone, as he has to prove his courage.
When Mrs Boynton is found dead, Sarah examines the body, and breaks the news to the family. She later tells Poirot that when she examined the body, Mrs Boynton had been dead for over an hour, and she sticks to this statement even when she is told that Raymond had said he had spoken to his mother just half an hour before, and she had been alive.
She later marries Raymond Boynton. At the end of the novel, five years after the death of Mrs Boynton, Sarah and Raymond attend a performance of Hamlet, in which Ginevra is performing. They also go to supper at the Savoy, together with other members of the Boynton family.
Appointment with Death (1988 film)
In this adaptation, she is a friend of Hercule Poirot and they meet at Trieste before boarding the ship for Jaffa. While en route, she prescribes hyocine for Poirot, presumably to treat sea sickness. It was also in Trieste that she first meets Raymond Boynton and they strike up a relationship which continues on board the ship.
At Jerusalem, she and Raymond planned to meet at the Cafe El Arish but Raymond is prevented by Mrs Boynton and Carol Boynton comes to convey his apologies. She also gives Sarah the background about her family. A number of scenes in which Sarah appears in the novel are also depicted, notably one in which she was turned away from a church because she was wearing a dress without sleeves.
The same confrontation between Sarah and Mrs Boynton takes place as in the novel where Mrs Boynton appears to look past her and says that she never forgets a face.
At Qumran she plays the same role as at Petra in the novel. She examines the dead body of Mrs Boynton, and also discovers that her medical bag had been opened and her bottle of digitalis had been emptied.
There is then an additional side plot she is involved in. At Jerusalem, Hassan, a servant boy from Qumran wanted to meet Poirot because he thought he had seen something significant. During the meeting with Poirot, Hassan inexplicably runs away. Sarah offers to get him and runs after Hassan into the old city of Jerusalem. Rounding a corner, Sarah hears a shot. Hassan is dead on the ground. She picks up the pistol and is soon surrounded by locals who believe that she had killed Hassan. They draw knives and close in to exact revenge but are driven away by the timely arrival of the police. Sarah finds herself arrested for a while on suspicion of having shot Hassan because the only fingerprints on the gun were hers. However Poirot persuades Colonel Carbury to release her. He reasoned that Sarah was wearing a thin dress and could not have concealed a gun on her.
Like in the original novel, Sarah pairs off with Raymond Boynton at the end.
Appointment with Death (2008)
In the 2008 ITV adaption of Appointment with Death, Sarah King is portrayed by Christina Cole. Her role is fairly similar to that of the original novel. Here she first meets Raymond near the hotel when she collapsed from heat exhaustion and is rescued by him. She seemed an unlikely traveller to the archaeological dig at Ain Musa. Theodore Gerard remarked to Poirot that she looked like someone who simply stuck a pin on a map and decided where to go. Later, she told Poirot that she was travelling because she was inspired after reading the books of Dame Celia Westholme who in this adaptation was a famous traveller and explorer.