Sherry's Reviews > The A.B.C. Murders

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
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Apr 02, 2009

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The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie is a mystery novel that is part of the famous Poirot detective series. I picked up this book because I am an avid mystery reader. While reading some other mystery novels I came upon a case that made many references to Agatha Christie’s novel The ABC Murders. After finding out that Agatha Christie’s Poirot is a lot like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, I decided to try her books out.
The protagonist is Poirot, a retired, sharp, and much esteemed Belgium detective. The antagonist is the mysterious murderer, whose identity isn’t revealed until the end of the novel. Poirot’s sidekick is Captain Hastings. The novel is told through his construction of a third person acount of the crime.
After receiving a mysterious letter of challenge from an anonymous man, Poirot becomes aware of a series of murders in the order of the victims’ names all over England: first, Alice Ascher of Andover, second, Betty Barnard of Bexhill-on-Sea, and third, Sir Carmichael Clarke of Churston. These murders are all the doings of Poirot’s challenger, the murderer. The murderer identifies himself as the criminal by sending a letter signed ABC to Hercule Poirot before each murder, telling him where and when each murder will take place, and by leaving behind an ABC Railway Guide next to each victim’s body. Poirot and the police are usually unable to save the victims, but as Poriot visits the victims’ families and acquaintances, more and more evidence gathers, and the truth comes in a surprising twist.
The central conflict is man vs. man or man vs. crime. The theme of the novel is that justice will always succeed over crime. This is seen from Poriot’s triumph in finding the ture ciminal despite of the seemingly flawless crime. The main conflict is between Poriot and the criminal. Poriot indirectly faces off the criminal by struggling to make sense of the pieces of evidence that the murderer leaves behind. Poriot’s success in unmasking the criminal makes the point that no matter how elaborate a crime is,justice will always succeed.
The writing style of The ABC Murders is out of the ordinary. While the mystery novels that I’m more familiar with, like that of Mary Higgins Clark or Tammi Hoag, have complex emotional twists along with the mystery itself, this novel is just a pure mystery. Most of her character or scenery descriptions are bare and banal, and there is no character development at all. Another unique trait about her novel is how she writes in the fashion of a police report. She writes as if the audience is expected to play detective, and find out who the killer is before Mr. Poriot can. One can tell from reading the novel that all the clues given by Agatha Christie are purposeful. Unlike other novels where finding the true villain is an impossible feat, Agatha Christie’s style gives the reader the bare evidence, everything that is needed to solve the case.
All in all I didn’t like this novel. I found this novel to be very dry and boring. Although Agatha Christie is a great crime writer, to me she isn’t a good novelist. She doesn’t do a very good job getting the reader engaged in the story. I often found the conferences and crime scene investigations insipid. This novel isn’t a novel for show or popularity, but is mystery in its purest form. I would strongly recommend this novel to all mystery lovers.

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