2011, among other things, was the year I discovered that I do actually like Agatha Christie, having read a few of her books in the past which I didn’t enjoy very much. I think I had obviously just been choosing the wrong books because I read five in 2011 and loved all but one of them (The Mystery of the Blue Train).
This one, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, is set in the fictional village of King’s Abbott, home to our narrator, Dr James Sheppard, and the retired detective Hercule Poirot. When Roger Ackroyd is found stabbed to death in his study, Poirot comes out of retirement to investigate the murder. The suspects include Ackroyd’s stepson, his secretary and butler, a big-game hunter and one of the parlourmaids. With Dr Sheppard’s assistance, Poirot begins to piece together the evidence to solve the mystery.
I loved this book and it might even have become my favourite Christie novel so far, if not for one little problem: I guessed the solution to the mystery very early in the story. Now, this is not something that usually happens – I’m normally completely mystified by Agatha Christie’s novels and don’t even bother trying to solve them. This is the first one I’ve ever figured out correctly, but it did mean that in some ways the book was spoiled for me. Not completely spoiled – it was still fun watching for more clues that would confirm whether I was right or not – but it would have been nice to have been surprised when the solution was finally revealed, as the author had intended.
As most Poirot novels are written either in the third person or narrated by Captain Hastings (who does not appear in this book) it took me a while to get used to the new narrator. It gave this book a slightly different feel to the other Poirots I’ve read. I also thought the characters had a bit more depth than usual and I loved the scenes with the doctor’s irritating gossip-loving sister, Caroline, who added some humour to the story. And even though the ending of the story didn’t have quite the impact for me that I would have liked it to have done, I could still appreciate how cleverly constructed the mystery was. There were plenty of suspects, all hiding secrets of their own, lots of red herrings and some plot twists. I’m looking forward to reading more Poirot throughout the year ahead!