Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

cover of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
If you are a mystery fan, you have heard of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. The book has generated a good deal of interest and critique over the years since it was published in 1926. The story was narrated by Dr. James Sheppard, who played a key role in the story. The book opens with the death of a Mrs. Ferrars. Her husband had died a year before, and her death was a suicide. Her friend, that many thought she would marry, Roger Ackroyd, asked to talk with Dr. Sheppard about the death. Dr. Sheppard went to dinner at Ackroyd’s estate with Ackroyd’s sister-in-law, niece (Flora), friend (Major Blunt), and secretary, Geoffrey Raymond. Other key suspects in the story are the housekeeper, Mrs. Russell, Ackroyd’s stepson, Ralph Patton (who was recently engaged to Flora), the butler, Parker, and the parlor maid  Ursula Bourne. Ackroyd was found murdered in his study later that night when Dr. Sheppard got a suspicious call that Ackroyd was dead. The finger of suspicion pointed to each of the characters in turn, and it was up to the newly retired Hercule Poirot to figure it out. Poor Poirot! He retired to grow vegetable marrows and wound up getting pulled in to a murder investigation.

Christie caused a ton of controversy with the book because of the plot twist she employed. I won’t say what it is here, but some people thought it was a cheat. Since I read the book before, and I knew whodunit, I was looking for all the clues that point to the murderer. They are indeed there! Christie’s mantra throughout all of her books was that you can’t believe what people tell you. You should only believe the things that you know that you can absolutely verify that isn’t based on X told me. Even as a kid, I was one of the “show me” types. I don’t know if I ever took it to the level of Christie’s detectives, but I do appreciate the philosophy. I found The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to be extremely well-written and highly entertaining. Christie knew how to weave a pleasing and entertaining puzzle, and I highly recommend The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to anyone who loves a good book!

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