Before 1926, Agatha Christie had published several books about her detective, Hercule Poirot, but they weren’t selling spectacularly. Then came the publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. In the same year, Christie went missing for 10 days, finally turning up at a hotel in Harrogate, an apparent victim of amnesia. These two events coming so close upon each other made her famous. Since then, she’s been a household name.
It’s difficult to review Roger Ackroyd without giving the ending away. It’s a classic “country house murder” with a small circle of suspects, lots of red herrings, and a few well-placed clues. The ending will leave the reader either in awe of Christie’s ingenuity or absolutely furious at her.
Christie’s sense of humor is apparent in some very funny scenes between Dr. Sheppard and his spinster sister Caroline (who may have been the prototype for Miss Marple) and in a riotous Mah Jongg game. A few other colorful figures inhabit the book too: Colonel Blunt, who appears always to be looking at something far away (and who makes the book occasionally sound like a game of Clue), and a willful housemaid named Ursula Bourne.
Hercule Poirot is, of course, brought in to solve the murder mystery and notices the things that no one else does, but he is not quite as annoyingly smug here as he is in some of Christie’s books. Poirot’s mishandling of the English language and Sheppard’s mistaking him for a hairdresser add some amusing moments.
Ackroyd is perhaps not the best mystery Christie ever wrote, but it is a “must read” for any lover of classic mysteries.
Since I have avoided spoilers in this article, PLEASE don’t add any! I’ve removed a few comments that had spoilers.
Here’s a link to Amazon if you want to buy this book: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd