Friday, March 18, 2011

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie

HarperCollins, 2006
originally published 1926

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd has long been one of my favorite Christie novels, not so much for Poirot's detection skills, but for its classic ending.  This time around was my second reading of this book, and knowing the ending, it was still fun watching the solution to this rather baffling crime unravel.

Because of the nature of the story, I can't really give an in-depth summary here. If you decide to read this book, believe me, you'll thank me later.  In the quiet English village of King's Abbot, Roger Ackroyd, as the title suggests, ends up murdered in the study of his home Fernly Park.  As it just so happens, Poirot is in the village, staying in the house next door to Dr. Sheppard (the narrator) and his sister Caroline, where he spends his days growing vegetable marrows.  Dr. Sheppard believes his new neighbor is a hairdresser, based on the evidence of Poirot's moustache. But Poirot reveals his true colors as he gets down to the business of Ackroyd's murder, using his "little gray cells" to comb through the staggering amount of red herrings and a number of suspects in the case. 

While this book is extraordinary in terms of the case, there are also a number of humorous moments throughout. An entire chapter is devoted to a rather crazy mah-jong game where the players share their own theories about the case in between calling out plays.  And at one point, one of the suspects calls Poirot a "little foreign cock duck," and I swear I heard the voice of John Cleese in my head, as the epithet reminded me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the French knights mercilessly taunt King Arthur and his men ("your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries").  But on the serious side, I have to say that this second reading provided me with a deeper appreciation for Christie's attention to minute detail -- as even little things turn out to be important in this book.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Christie's best works, with an ending you won't soon forget. It's a definite must read in the Christie canon and one of my personal favorites.

--what is a vegetable marrow, by the way?


  1. I think marrow is what we in the US call zucchini. And what always interests me is it seems to be a great thing to grow huge ones, whereas our zucchinis are best eaten quite small.

    I so enjoyed this review, especially because I quit the book part way through. I love AC, and I've read for years that this is her masterpiece. Hard as I tried, I couldn't avoid finding out the 'twist' years ago, and so was never tempted to read it. I've been reading through the Poirot books in order, and Roger A. was next, so I thought to myself, well, I'll read it. So what if I know. But I couldn't take it. I didn't like it at all. I wish I could put words to it, but I can't. Other than to say I couldn't stand the doctor's personality. I did like the way P. misses Hastings at the beginning. Tell me, did P. know right from the beginning?? He seemed to really like the bad guy but maybe he was just fooling?? Thanks again for the great post.

  2. You never know what runs through Poirot's mind -- but my guess would be yes.

    I'm trying to read the Poirot novels in order too. I've got all of them (and the Marples, and the Tommy and Tuppence, etc etc etc) so it's just a matter of disciplining myself to read one every now and then.

    Zucchini: I grew them once and they were so huge and numerous that I couldn't give them all away before they went bad. Vegetable marrow sounds like the insides of veggies so I was a bit curious!

  3. That's the old joke with zucchini. :<) I grow some that is technically a summer squash called Zephyr that is yellow and green. They are so sweet if I pick them very small. The ones I miss I grate and make into zucchini cake!

  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of the many books I plan to read - just not right now. So let´s see when I´m ninety.

    Vegetable marrows are called squash in Denmark.

  5. Oh my, Dorte! I hope it doesn't take that long! It's too good to miss.

    I wonder why they're called vegetable marrows? I have to check that out.

  6. Nan:
    Accidentally deleted your second comment! Damn the iphone keypad!

  7. Read this book about 50 years ago and it still sticks with me. I remember being so pissed off at the ending. How could she do that? I asked myself. Read the ending 4 times thinking I must have got something wrong. One of the classics.

    1. It's definitely an ending you'll never forget, isn't it??


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