The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
by Agatha Christie
[#51 in my
52 60 book challenge]
I thought that Murder on the Orient Express was considered Agatha Christie’s most stunning twist. But I was doing some research and it became very, very clear that two different books stand out among her many works of classic whodunnit detective fiction: And Then There Were None (AKA Ten Little Indians) and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I thought I’d start with Mr. Ackroyd.
I love a good, old-fashioned detective novel. I especially like when all of the characters are stuck in a house, knowing that the murderer is among them, trying to to figure out why everyone is lying and what the truth is. Agatha first delighted me with Murder on the Orient Express when I was thirteen and she BLEW MY MIND with that one. I still think about that ending. I also had my mind blown by the stage production of The Mousetrap. To this day “Three Blind Mice” totally creeps me out.
Okay. Enough with the historical background on why I picked the book. What was it actually about? Well, I had a hard time figuring that part out at first. It was kind of hard to read and it felt like it took forever to get to the point. Here’s the rundown: A guy dies. His wife likely poisoned him. Then she dies…suicide, because someone is blackmailing her.
But that’s not the juicy stuff. That’s not our murder.
No no no. The dead lady wrote a letter to her new boyfriend, Roger Ackroyd, before she offed herself, explaining the murder, blackmail, and suicide…and revealing who had blackmailed her. But before Roger Ackroyd can read who is responsible…he’s dead. Whodunnit? The housekeeper? The parlormaid? The adopted son? The crazy sister? The beautiful niece? The snooping butler? The personal secretary? The unidentified, shady American man roaming around the grounds? The big-game-hunting houseguest? In steps Hercule Poirot, the retired investigator from Belgium, to solve the crime, old-school style, with the help of his neighbor (and the story’s narrator), Dr. Shepherd. Poirot’s methods include using his “little grey cells” a lot, not telling anybody that he actually knows more than he appears to know at any given moment, and calling a lot of meetings to declare “I believe the murder is RIGHT HERE…IN THIS ROOM <thunderclap>!”
The plot twist at the end was pretty good. The murderer is truly creepy, and I can see why many people felt outraged when they read this book. It certainly appears to have caused quite a stir, both in the 1920′s when it was written and today. People either love it or hate it. I loved the ending once I waded though the rest of the novel to get there. So how does it hold up on plot twists? I found a list on GoodReads of The Best Twists and Ackroyd is #10. Here’s the list:
The list certainly has its issues (Deathly Hallows? I guess…but there are better twists out there), but I’ve read eight of the ten and #11 (Ender’s Game) and #12 (Murder on the Orient Express). Definitely worth reading for the twist, and I might need it add it to my list of Top 10 Books That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open (note that many of my picks are on the GoodReads list…)
Final Note: Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Wesley (<3!) in the Harry Potter films, played Agatha Christie in the BBC’s Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures. Fun!