I'm sure that I read "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," by Agatha Christie, decades ago, but I'd more or less forgotten the plot when I picked it up again at the beginning of February. This is from 1926 and is one of the early Hercule Poirot tales, in which our Belgian sleuth has retired to a small village, King's Abbot, to grow marrows. His quiet retirement is interrupted by the sudden murder of the wealthy local man, Roger Ackroyd, and he has no shortage of suspects in his quest to solve the case. In fact, there may be too many motives for him to be able to sort it all out....Agatha Christie is, of course, considered the Queen of Crime and this book is the one that truly cemented her popularity among readers; as such, it is of course a classic. The plotting is tight, the characters are well-drawn (if a bit stereotypical for the period) and the clues (or "clews" as they're called here) are fairly disbursed. I'm pleased that I figured out - or remembered - who the murderer was, but really one reads Christie for comfort more than to test one's deductive abilities. Recommended, especially on a cold winter's night!
on July 5, 2004
When I first reached for the book I didn't expect it to be a controversial read. Six hours later, I was agape, in denial and most certainly scandalized. Without giving away the plot, suffice to say that Dame Agatha had written her ultimate masterpiece when she decided to write "...Roger Ackroyd".
For first-time readers: Don't be fooled by the length of the novel. The clues are there, sprinkled neatly and merrily along with the darned red herrings. You have to read it slowly, as it was with most of her novels.
The story: a doctor was called by Roger Ackroyd to discuss an important matter, but before he could divulge it further he was interuppted by the evening post. The matter was left there, and the doctor went home, seeing his host a bit disturbed. When he got home another call came in and announced that Mr Ackroyd was dead. Thus Poirot came into the scene and began nosing around. The solution was truly one of the most surprising in literature history.
The novel became the measuring rod for future mystery and detective novels, although its controversy is undeniable. My suggestion is that you ignore the controversy for the moment and concentrate on the story.
on January 25, 2004
Hercule Poirot has lost interest in the dective business since the departure of Hastings to South America. He has retired to a small village to grow vegetable marrows and live a quiet life. He discovers that vegetable marrows do not grow in an orderly manner and that crime does not limit itself to the city.
The village is buzzing with gossip about the suicide of a local well to do widow and then is sent reeling by the murder of Roger Ackroyd, the wealthiest man in town. Poirot is drawn into these problems by Ackroyd's niece, Flora and finds himself not only dealing with murder but also with blackmail, petty theft and romance.
In Hastings absence the story is told by the local doctor who is also a next door neighbor of Hercule Poirot.
When this novel came out in 1926 it was immensely popular and somewhat controversial in that it broke one of the 'rules' for a good dectective novel (and you will have to read the book to find out which one). THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD ranks with AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (AKA TEN LITTLE INDIANS) and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS as Christie at her most orginal.
This story is also significant in that one of the characters, Caroline, the doctor's sister, has been credited by Christie as being the forerunner of Miss Marple. The soon to be familiar Christie theme of small towns as hot beds of intrigues both large and small is seen here for the first time.
This book has aged very gracefully, the first time reader of today will probably be just as surprised as the readers of the 1920's were. As always with a Christie the clues are all there fairly laid out for the reader to follow.
on October 13, 2003
Agatha Christie is recognized throughout the world as being the "Queen of Crime". It is undoubtable that this holds true, especially in her ingeniously written, classic mystery novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The story is told through the 1st person point of view, so the narrator, James Sheppard ( the local doctor ), is one of the main characters. He introduces all the characters in the small English town of King's Abbot, where the story is set: Mrs. Ferrars, Flora, Ralph Paton, Ursula Bourne, Hector Blunt, Colonel Carter, the formidable Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and many more.
The story begins with the suicide of Mrs. Ferrars, which stirrs confusion; Rumors say that she poisoned her first husband, that someone was blackmailing her, and that she had a secret liaison with Roger Ackroyd. The mystery surrounding her death appalls everyone even more when Roger Ackroyd is brutally stabbed to death a few days later. Hercule Poirot, accompanied by Dr. Sheppard, set out to trace the tracks of a very sharp and devious killer.
I found it extremely captivating up to the very end, which I found was the best part of the novel. There are so many twists in the plot, red herrings, clues, and foreshadowing, yet the solution to the crime completely eludes the reader until told. All the characters and their different possible motives, which Agatha Christie carefully presents, are subject to questioning; therefore, at one point or another, I suspected almost everyone to have committed the murder.
What I loved most is that I was caught off-guard many times while reading. I have a vague idea in my head and then when I turn the next page, I'm proved wrong. Agatha Christie has an unbelievable imagination and talent that she is able to make such a simple detail become the turning point in the mystery. You are always expecting the opposite of what truly happens,and I think that is what is brilliant about her writing, and especially this novel.
In the end, when you are told the conclusion to the story, the shock is so tremendous that it creates a smile on the reader's face. Automatically, you realize how obvious the answer was and how from the very beginning, the cards were layed out on the table face-up, yet you are still incredibly decieved.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to have an insightful and captivating time trying to unravel the mystery of the death of Roger Ackroyd!
on August 30, 2003
Agatha Christie is not the greatest writer on the face of the earth. Her prose is adequate (at least fast moving, though). However, her imagination and plotting abilities are unbelievable. There are so many surprise plot twists and turns that we see day after day in modern movies and such that she invented.
Her THE ABC MURDERS really introduced the serial killer to a wide audience, for example. As did A PALE HORSE. She also spent much time with her archeologist husband in Egypt and the ancient middle-east, and many of her books are full of lovely detail and settings from this part of the world. You'd be hard pressed to find a more delightful writer, who decade after decade came up with one whopper of a surprise ending after another. I've read ALL of her books, and probably only guessed the murderer correctly maybe 10% of the time.
THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, a fairly early novel of hers, gave us perhaps THE classic surprise ending to a whodunnit EVER. It's been done since, but never better, except perhaps in Christie's own haunting novel ENDLESS NIGHT. I read this novel twenty years ago, having heard it had a great ending, and I tried like heck to figure it out. But I never dreamed the solution that was presented could be it. WOW! Unless you're a totally jaded reader of whodunnits, this is a must read.
Now remember, Christie was practically from the Victorian age. Her books are chaste and not terribly violent or action packed. Lots of talking and looking for clues. Not much chasing or fighting or shooting!! These are sedate, rainy-day reads. But don't think her books are just for fuddy-duddies or "old folks." I think they are a fascinating slice of social history, and a darn fine brain-teaser. And THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD would be a GREAT introduction to Christie.
(Other books of hers I especially recommend, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES [her very first book], ENDLESS NIGHT, DEATH COMES AS THE END [set in ancient Egypty!!], THE ABC MURDERS & MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA [set at an archelogical dig and just dripping with authenticity])
on July 15, 2003
After reading "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", I can see why Agatha Christie is one of the greatest mystery writers to have ever lived. This book is written through the eyes of Dr. James Sheppard, who has been called when his patient, Roger Ackroyd, is murdered. Dr. Sheppard has recently lost a patient named Mrs. Ferrars who was engaged to the deceased. Before her death,
she confided some personal information to Dr. Sheppard which gave him an inside track on the identity of the murderer. The victim's adopted son Roger, seems like a likely suspect, so his fiance Flora hires a retired detective, Hercule Poirot, to find the real killer. In his precise and logical way, Poirot does just that, uncovering the truth bit by bit as he interviews the possible suspects. They are all present--the family members who stand to gain financially from Ackroyd's death, the butler, the efficient private secretary, the housekeeper, the parlor maid, and a mysterious stranger. Only one of them is guilty and Poirot works his magic in this cleverly convoluted story. It is amazing to see that this book was written in 1926 and it is just as interesting today as it was almost 80 years ago.
on February 10, 2003
Having to read this book for my Crime Stories class at my college, I knew that I should read it before it was assigned so as to actually enjoy it and not have the classic case of "assigned-book-equals-boring-book"-syndrome that too many students have to suffer. I read it about two weeks before it was assigned, and finished it today. Oh my god, that was amazing!
Written in a complex (not to mention dated) style, this book is narrated by one James Sheppard, a small-town doctor in Victorian England. He introduces us to the town and its characters (which, I might add, there are a LOT of), and the whole mystery itself. It also features the super detective Hercule Poirot, in his fourth adventure (yes, this is part of a series...fortunately it doesn't seem to involve any of the other books except through vague mentions).
As to the mystery, I won't get too into it, it involves the suicide and possible blackmail of a woman, a wealthy man's murder, and...okay, just read it and find out for yourself. It's just so interesting; it's a quick read, and once you put this book down...just...I can't begin to describe it. Let's just say that I could not believe how everything turned out in the end. Read it, and I hope you enjoy it as much.
on August 26, 2002
Somehow, I've always been given the impression that Agatha Christie never fails to surprise you. "The champion deceiver of our time" is what she is described as, on the back of her book. I set out to find whether that truly was the case.
Agatha Christie wastes no time at all in the beginning. She is quick to introduce all the characters (which are quite a few), set up the story, and make you get a feel of what the novel is about. Later in the plot, she introduces interesting clues, and small details, which will constantly play with your thoughts on whom the murderer could possibly be.
The novel starts off with the death of an attractive widow Mrs. Ferrars. She is told to have died of an overdose of veronal (some kind of poison). The mystery surrounding her death baffles everyone. After all, who would want to kill her, a widow who meant no one any harm? Or did she? Or maybe she was not killed at all. How then, did she die?
The mystery surrounding Mrs. Ferrars is still fresh in everyone's mind, when suddenly Roger Ackroyd, the man she was said to be planning to marry, too is killed brutally. Stabbed with a knife from behind, Roger Ackroyd dies with secrets in his heart that no one knows of. Did he find out who the secret of Mrs. Ferrars death, or were there more secrets that he was hiding? (I won't answer those questions or it'll ruin your fun of reading the book).
The novel is written in first person, by one of the main characters in the story - Dr Sheppard. He is with Hercule Poirot as he undertakes the quest of finding the murderer. He accompanies Poirot in every endeavor that he takes to uncover clues and find possible suspects. Agatha Christie offers a very interesting insight into how someone who has nothing to do with crime and investigation arranges and rearranges the possible occurrence of events.
After having read most of the book, I was convinced that there wouldn't really be any surprises in this one. All the characters, their motives, and their actions were made evident through the clues the author meticulously provided. I had a somewhat rough idea of who would have committed the murder and why (after all, we all have brilliant imaginations). But Agatha Christie yet again, did not disappoint me. She caught me completely off-guard with an ending that only she could have thought up.
Christie's style of making something seem so simple, and yet be able to bring out something completely unforthcoming, is one of the best things about her writing. You're always expecting something to be different, for the story to reach some sort of anti-climax, yet you cannot put your finger on it. And when the truth is revealed, it is so obvious and yet so cleverly concealed. This is what sets her writing apart from others.
In many mystery novels, I get the feeling that the reader was not given enough clues to be able to figure out who the culprit really was. Such is not the case with Christie's novels. Though not readily apparent, she provides all the details necessary to find necessary clues right from the start. Only in the last chapter will you be able to see her clever use of words, and the way that she has been hiding nothing from the readers.
After reading this novel, I feel that I have achieved great value for the time and money that went into buying this book. It is indeed, an incredible find. I definitely recommend it to all you mystery lovers out there.
"The champion deceiver of our time" - Indeed, this statement does hold true.
on June 28, 2002
What can I say? Since this was the first Agatha Christie book that I had ever read, I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy it. To begin with, I knew nothing about Agatha Christie, and bought this book at the airport because I had a long flight ahead of me, and I needed something to read on the plane. However, as soon as I started reading, I realized that I just couldn't put it down. This book has everything: a widow's suicide, blackmail, deception, the murder of one of the town's most prominent men, mysterious strangers, a detective who claims to know everything, a likely suspect, and a very unlikely murderer. I was truly amazed at the ease with which Christie was able to bring all of the characters together - As it turns out, they all have a lot more to hide than you originally suspect. It's definitely a modern whodunit that will keep you guessing until the very end. For anyone who has never read an Agatha Christie novel before, I suggest that you start with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - you'll become an instant fan just like I did.
on May 27, 2002
This is the Agatha Christie novel that had both her competitors and critics crying foul at the solution to the crime--but although the book has its weaknesses, the solution is not one of them. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD remains one of the most startling novels in the entire murder mystery genre, and it should be very near the top of any murder mystery fan's reading list.
Told from the point of view of a village doctor, ACKROYD opens with a suspicious death--and this is followed by the murder of Ackroyd, a wealthy local who learns more about the suspicious death than it is wise to know, and whose death draws Hercule Poirot to investigate. This is not actually one of Christie's more smoothly written novels; most of the characters (excluding Caroline, the village gossip, who is a delight) seem more than a little flat, the narrative drags a bit here and there, and the plot is extremely tricksy... but the conclusion is a stunner, perhaps the single most famous plot twist of Christie's long and revered career. An absolute must read!