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Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie

Told from the point of view of a country doctor, James Sheppard, the novel opens when a certain Mrs. Ferrars dies. Not long afterwards, Roger Ackroyd is found murdered in his study. The local inspector immediately suspects the butler, Parker, and Ackroyd’s stepson also becomes a murder suspect, as Hercule Poirot (who’s conveniently retired to a house in the neighborhood) is called in to solve the crime.

Written in the great age of crime novels—the 1920s—The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a murder mystery that threatens to puzzle even the most astute crime solver. It doesn’t come as much surprise—apparently, Agatha Christie would write each of her novels not knowing who the murderer would be, and then decided at the end who it was. Then, she’d go back and change aspects of the novel accordingly. Its very clear that she did that here. There’s some extraneous stuff that could have been left out. But its also clear that Christie is influenced by true crime stories of the past--the Crippen case is mentioned in this novel.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is not by any means one of Christie’s best, and the characters, even M. Poirot, seem a little flat. After all, we’ve seen mysterious strangers, disgruntled family members, and blackmailers before. But this is the book that created the cliché, “the butler did it.” The narrator is not without a modicum of wit; he has no patience for the neighborhood’s gossiping ladies, including his sister. The beauty of this book, however, comes from the mystery itself—how things play out, and the denouement itself, which is quite shocking. In fact, Christie bends all the rules here, and her ability to deceive the reader—and her indomitable detective, Poirot—is unparalled.

I’ve read many of Christie’s other mysteries, so it surprised me when I realized that I hadn’t read this one! I generally like her writing, and Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorite mysteries, but over all, I prefer Miss Marple over Hercule Poirot. But if you want a murder mystery that revolutionized the world of detective fiction, then read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Also reviewed by: Ticket to Anywhere


Kristen M. said…
There are a couple of Christie stories where the solution to the mystery is just a bit too convoluted and this was one of them. It was still enjoyable though!
I am also partial to Miss Marple. There's just something about her ...
Danielle said…
I've not really read many of Agatha Christie's mysteries, but I did read this a few years ago and enjoyed it greatly. I don't think I've read any with Miss Marple--I need to read some of hers as well.
Kim said…
Stop by my blog and pick up the awards I am passing on to you!
Rob said…
I read "And Then There Were None" (or whatever you want to call it) a few weeks ago. I like Christie, but when I'm in the mood for a classic detective, I tend to head towards Rex Stout instead...
Eva said…
I prefer Miss Marple too! :) But I love the British TV version of Poirot. :D He's so much more endearing than in the books.
Eva said…
I prefer Miss Marple too! :) But I love the British TV version of Poirot. :D He's so much more endearing than in the books.

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