Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
In a small country village, one person’s business is everyone’s business. So when a rich widow commits suicide, everyone knows about it, and speculates as to the reason why. And everyone wonders, does it have anything to do with her new paramour, Roger Ackroyd? However, when Ackroyd is found murdered after a mysterious phone call to the local doctor, it is up to Poirot to solve a case in which everyone seems to have had the chance, the motive…or both.
This one has all of the traits that make me love Christie’s work: strong characterization of everyone in the novel, very tightly written plotting, with no wasted verbiage and lots of plot details and twists, and the ability to piece together the crime and follow the clues, if you are quick witted enough to keep up with Poirot.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd also has what is likely to be Christie’s most controversial ending in any of her novels or short stories. It is one that readers will either love or hate, or in some cases (like with this reviewer), not be entirely sure how you feel about it. Christie pulls a trick out of her hat that is both brilliant and infuriating, and quite over the top. It is believable, well-explained, and yet to some will feel like a cheat. I certainly still don’t know what to think of it.
Despite that, or perhaps because of it, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd has become a classic of the mystery genre, and the novel that really sent Christie to literary fame. It is a fast paced, thoroughly engaging novel that readers will find hard to put down, and a cornerstone of a genre. Fans of great storytelling, mysteries, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle shouldn’t miss this one.