Werner's Reviews > The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
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Feb 26, 10

bookshelves: mystery-crime-fiction
Recommended for: Mystery fans
Read in January, 1962, read count: 1

One of my Goodreads friends recently read and reviewed this book, which jogged my memory of it. It was one of the first mysteries I ever read, and gave me an enjoyable and favorable introduction to the genre. One of Christie's best known works, it features one of her most vivid series detectives, brilliant but vain Belgian expatriate Hercules Poirot. Here, the dapper little detective finds himself investigating the murder of a country squire, stabbed in his study. Poirot's usual sidekick, Capt. Hastings, doesn't appear here at all, as I recall (remember, it's been close to 50 years since I read it!); instead, the village doctor becomes a sort of helper in the investigation, and serves as narrator.

Decades later, enjoying the Poirot adaptations on PBS' Mystery! series, I found the period ambiance one of the strengths of the series. Christie's actual writing style, however, has very few descriptive details of a period sort, and as a kid I didn't know enough to read the copyright date on a book; so I assumed it was set in my own time. For me then, the appeal was the straight who-done-it? aspect, and I enjoyed it to the hilt --including the ending, which bothered my Goodreads friend. :-) In fact, it's bothered quite a few genre fans, starting with the furor that followed the original printing. Without a spoiler, I can't say much, except that, if one of your delights in mystery fiction is trying to guess the identity of the killer, my prediction is that you won't guess this one (I sure didn't!). Not a few critics in 1926 screamed with outrage, accusing Christie of violating the sacred ACCEPTED CONVENTIONS (gasp!) of the mystery genre. As a 10 or 11 year old kid, I didn't know what those were, and knew nothing about the controversy. But my conclusion at the time was about what I later learned that of Christie's fellow mystery writer, Dorothy Sayers, had been: "Fooled you --and fair!" (And pretty doggone skillfully, too, I'd have to add! :-))
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message 1: by Bruce (new)

Bruce You're fortunate, Werner, to have been ignorant of the culprit when you read it. I was not, because none other than Dorothy L. Sayers let's the cat out of the bag in the introduction to her anthology Omnibus of Crime! Thus, for me, a 12-year old Christie fan, this classic, which I had been saving for just the right time to savor, was ruined. I wrote to the advice column of a local newspaper asking if they knew of a hypnotist who could make me forget the identity of the murderer. They never answered, but several months later published several what they considered unusual or "kooky" letters. One was mine, illustrated with a drawing of a dizzy young woman entering a psychiatrist's office with a book under her arm.

I did eventually read it, but my heart wasn't in it. I always wonder if I would have guessed . . .

Werner Yes --it makes quite a difference in one's ability to appreciate a mystery if you don't already know the solution! (Sayers, of all people, should have been sensitive to that!) I was indeed fortunate in reading the book when I was pretty green and had never heard of it before, let alone run into any of the voluminous critical reactions to it. :-)

message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger I had a professor who read EVERY Agatha Christie novel. I wondered why, since I'm not a mystery fan. Your review helps explain why. I agree with the critics who say there should be hints though--somebody's vampire book gave me NO HINT about how the female protagonist would resolve her dilemma. Not fair, Werner--though I really enjoyed that original voyage into the dark, beginning to end.

Werner Glad you enjoyed it, Roger!

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