Friday, March 18, 2011
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
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?