As a Poirot and Agatha Christie fan, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the first novel on my to-read list that I have read before. Probably more than twice. And seen the TV adaptation. Despite my familiarity with the story, and its famous twist, it was the most engrossing book I’ve read so far. The mystery works just as well if you know the secrets or don’t.
My first memories of Agatha Christie’s works begin with a bookcase that used to live in my house growing up and the full collection my dad owned. He still has them today, hardcover, red books with delicate ribbons to mark your page. They were the nicest books we owned so always took on a special reverence whenever I looked at them. I still think of her books that way, as something just that bit more wonderful than anything else.
Christie knows how to tell a story. Her books are more consumed than read, pages and chapters fly past before you realise how late it is. Alongside this, she plots a scientific murder case for Poirot to unravel. The result is a masterclass in detective fiction – enough adventure, mystery and surprise.
I won’t go into the plot in any detail, as it should be followed free of any conceptions or biases. Safe to say it’s a detective story unlike any other.
A word for Poirot himself, created in earlier books but perfected here. He is determined and just, annoying and pompous. A mischievous reference to Holmes and Watson both acknowledges Christie’s debt and highlights this fantastic addition to the genre. Like Sherlock Holmes, Poirot has stood the test of time – he is a character so well drawn that he will always be intriguing for writers and filmmakers to adapt.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a real mystery for the first-time reader, one of Christie’s best. For second and subsequent readings, the fun becomes following the clues and red herrings. The novel also serves as a good introduction to Poirot, with the narrator acting as a surrogate for the reader (in the same way Captain Hastings does in the earlier books).
This novel, now over 90 years old, teaches us how to break the rules. Christie changed mystery writing forever with Roger Ackroyd. It’s no surprise that mystery writers agree, voting the book the best ever crime novel in 2013.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century.
A Note on the Author
Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and wrote over 60 detective novels, as well as 14 short story collections and the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She created legendary characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, as well as And Then There Were None, which has sold over 100 million copies to date. Christie died in 1976 at the age of 85.