Richard Derus's Reviews > The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
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Rating: 4* of five **THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE AGATHA CHRISTIE'S POIROT EPISODE AS WELL AS THE BOOK**

The Publisher Says: In the village of King's Abbot, a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study--but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow's blackmailer. King's Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd's wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim's home. It's now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King's Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd--a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard's ingenious sister, Caroline.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the book that made Agatha Christie a household name and launched her career as a perennial bestseller. Originally published in 1926, it is a landmark in the mystery genre. It was in the vanguard of a new class of popular detective fiction that ushered in the modern era of mystery novels.

My Review: Undoubtedly the most famous novel written by Dame Agatha. It is well-known even among non-mystery readers, poor benighted sods, and has been cited by scholars as a turning point in the history of the mystery genre as a literary force. An English professor, [[Pierre Bayard]], has even delved deeply into the text to propose, from the book that Dame Agatha wrote, an alternative (and very interesting) ending!

I'm not going to spoiler the ending's Big Twist because the ten or twelve literate-in-English people who have never read it will come screaming in from the Internet to call me unpleasant names, and I'm done with that. It is indeed a Big Twist, it makes the entire experience of the book far more interesting than it otherwise would be, and it's just flat fun to come to, that first time, all unknowing.

So that said, when I first read this novel in 1973, I was all unknowing and was I gobsmacked! My oldest sister had a copy of it in her house, where I was visiting her, and she was deriving major amusement from my responses as the pages turned. It was a great way to spend a summer weekend.

Then after what, maybe 35 years, they make a Poirot TV episode out of the story. The vast bulk of you, having read the book, are now looking bemused, befuddled, or annoyed. How, you're asking yourself, can the Big Twist be preserved? How can the essential frisson-granting narrative device translate onto film, for pity's sake?!

Not all that well.

It's still a stylish and entertaining film, and I liked watching it, but it was NOT the equal of the book. For one thing, Inspector Japp appears out of nowhere and assumes his usual role as Poirot's foil-cum-sidekick. WTF? I screamed at the screen, WTF IS THIS HOOPLA?! (I used a dirtier word, but I am attempting to portray myself as a sweet and mild-mannered old man.) (Stop laughing.) Japp appeareth not in the novel! Not even close. It is but one of many shifts required to bring the story to the screen.

And for the only time in the entire history of the series Agatha Christie's Poirot, I wished they had just left the book alone and unfilmed. So why four stars? Because the book is five, and the film is three. Do the math. But don't bother with the show unless you're a completist.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 1, 1973 – Finished Reading
July 6, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by Julio (new)

Julio Genao I can't remember reading this. the Twist is not yet happened to my virgin face.


Renee I loved this book. I have not seen the Poirot film, but I don't think you should downgrade the book rating though based on the TV adaptation. Seems hit and miss with them. Some are done really well, others like The Body in the Library, which I watched recently was not so good. They even changed the murderer so they could add in a lesbian relationship. Definitely not in the book, which was much better.


Patrick I haven't read a huge number of the Poirot novels but I have read this one and am a huge fan of the series. This has to be one of the best mysteries out there and I'm always trying to convince those you may not usually go for Agatha Christie to at least give it a go because what makes this novel so brilliant is that you have no idea, no inkling whatsoever that the twist is coming and you could honestly be forgiven for considering the story quite dull at times... it's just great.


Richard Derus julio wrote: "I can't remember reading this. the Twist is not yet happened to my virgin face."

So what're you waiting for? Go read it! Or is that where you are right now...if it isn't, it should be.


Richard Derus Renee wrote: "I loved this book. I have not seen the Poirot film, but I don't think you should downgrade the book rating though based on the TV adaptation. Seems hit and miss with them. Some are done really well..."

I loved the book too!


Richard Derus Patrick wrote: "I haven't read a huge number of the Poirot novels but I have read this one and am a huge fan of the series. This has to be one of the best mysteries out there and I'm always trying to convince tho..."

It's one of those even-non-mystery-readers kind of books, isn't it?


message 7: by Vivian (new)

Vivian I never made the leap to Christie. I did the complete Sherlock and then stopped my mystery reading. Weird. Should fix that. Added.


message 8: by Ram (new) - added it

Ram Kumar nice review, Richard.


Dana Thank you! You got this exactly right. I was also horrified by how awful the TV version was, though I like the series generally. I don't know that there's any way they COULD have filmed this successfully and still preserved the twist, but the ending was predictable and dull on TV - they just didn't get it right. As you say, they shouldn't have filmed it at all


message 10: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Flower " Undoubtedly the most famous novel written by Dame Agatha"

Very Doubtful. And Then There were None is the most famous. Murder on the Orient Express is also more famous.


message 11: by Kevin (new) - added it

Kevin 360 you have to do it. the other hand. I am not a problem with that in mind that the best. the other hand is a great way to get to the right to your site. you can find a place for a long way. it was a great way for me. I am not sure if it was the only problem is, in the morning and then click on the rug is a good idea to have to do it. the other hand, but the best. the only one who can be found at judgment. it will not be the first to know if you want us giddy I have to be 6 I am a beautiful day, I am not a problem with the same. yup, I am not sure if I could be used to Jeff. I have been the business, but the g eggs, 20th, but I have been the most important part in the morning he fun. the other hand is the first time


message 12: by Kevin (new) - added it

Kevin 360 bugs gush us to the top. it is a great 24.


message 13: by Kevin (new) - added it

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message 14: by Kevin (new) - added it

Kevin 360 ugh g the jus a good idea of a few days. the first one to two of us are on the phone and I will have the good day. I am going to be able. I will have to be a good time to time. I have a great day. I have a great day. I have been in contact with you to the right to 88.3 the same thing. it was just a few years, but it will also be available tomorrow c sgh schedule uehegf c 50th anniversary is he gets better soon. he is a very good use. the other day I was wondering go to the top of my own. hey, sorry I didn't us to do. I will have judgment of my favorite yes, it would be the same time. it will not be able the 7th 6th. if I can 7-Eleven I was a great day. it is a, 5th Avenue, new Jersey and the best. the other hand. I will be a little more about this, but it's a little while ago and it will be able the same. yup, I will not have to be the heads for Vaux gas having he vegetables g eggshell give hey do you want me know NJ fight be judges Beggs gets gets get hrdyd jd I am hey guys. I'm not a big 24th he gadgets the same as above. if you want us Jodie he was in the future of this 4th eve fever. it is a very good at. the new York times with you. you have to go to the teaser, I have a goodnight and I have to do it have eh heh heh eh eh. heh. bbb egg hey u shush gets to get the latest version, I will have to be a good time time to geth give gush heh get a good idea gd7, hey. it is st, I am not stsgs going to have the same feted the first to know hehe he was a good idea, 2nd hehe I have 22 message fhecg z very well condition, I will a great time to do 25 hehe hehe us g suggest hehe sinuous u ever need to be view the gzhs full amount of the most important aspect vacuous judge 425542662 j be bbb he is not an easy task. I guys are doing well and good dtzvvs77e736 hvdghz u get a free Gmail address, and effort. the first time I have a good time 62553655465e the first to know about you. she's not 6th Ave, San here are my hgxh is not ysy an easy 6th Ave ,yes from gdhdg faces hehe fish subs veggies the a few years ago sgn cc is not an due date is not in a couple days zhbdgrbx7, and yet it to the e he 62553655465e, ggshd I will not only did it. I have to do. ygs I will not see any guff seem he home hehe but I Jr. is there anything you need to 2 the first to know about the whshd


message 15: by Kevin (new) - added it

Kevin 360 he just got my phone number. the first thing dues. the 4G. xerox I am not gets to you trust d7 c. I will be. exhibition. I 7.


message 16: by Josh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Josh Caporale It was definitely a great experience to read and I felt it was very well put together. I did, however, predict what was going to happen quite quickly, due to process of elimination. A friend of mine told me that while he felt the same, the twist was known most for throwing people off when it was first released. I do want to read more Agatha Christie and I enjoyed this review of yours!


Richard Derus Josh wrote: "It was definitely a great experience to read and I felt it was very well put together. I did, however, predict what was going to happen quite quickly, due to process of elimination. A friend of min..."

Thank you for stopping in to say so! I am sure that it's a trick past its prime, in most ways anyway, but was a revelation at the time. Do be warned, though, that the filmed version is to be shunned!


message 18: by Josh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Josh Caporale I will be sure to keep that in mind. On many occasions, films have many other goals in mind that do not reflect the book.


Richard Derus Josh wrote: "I will be sure to keep that in mind. On many occasions, films have many other goals in mind that do not reflect the book."

In this case, it was a too-strong fidelity to the book that made the film so dreary. Sleight-of-hand on the page is considerably easier than on the screen.


message 20: by Josh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Josh Caporale That is certainly the case. It would have been really difficult to throw people off the way many were thrown off in the book. Then again, I did have to read back in order to assure myself.


Richard Derus Josh wrote: "That is certainly the case. It would have been really difficult to throw people off the way many were thrown off in the book. Then again, I did have to read back in order to assure myself."

As is so often the case! I just finished reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Dark Matter today, and there were some points in the narrative that I had to revisit a few times before I was clear in my mind what was happening.


message 22: by Helen (new) - added it

Helen I'm one of those poor benighted sods, Richard, but your review makes me think I should check this one out. Thanks:-)


Richard Derus Helen wrote: "I'm one of those poor benighted sods, Richard, but your review makes me think I should check this one out. Thanks:-)"

I hope it's a great read for you.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I've heard it's a great one but I havent gotten my hands on it yet. I'm trying to read a lot of Poirot this year too but fell behind on goal.


message 25: by Rory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rory I'm only just starting Poirot this year, and this'll be on my reading list as soon as possible.


Richard Derus Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "I've heard it's a great one but I havent gotten my hands on it yet. I'm trying to read a lot of Poirot this year too but fell behind on goal."

It's one of the greats, by popular consensus, but it's not always to one's individual taste. Don't feel pressured by the Mean Girls' Clique of Agathites to love it if you don't.


Richard Derus Rory wrote: "I'm only just starting Poirot this year, and this'll be on my reading list as soon as possible."

A worthy project! I hope you enjoy it.


message 28: by Rory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rory Richard wrote: "Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "I've heard it's a great one but I havent gotten my hands on it yet. I'm trying to read a lot of Poirot this year too but fell behind on goal."

It's one of the g..."


Yes exactly, to be honest I wasn't at all keen on Mysterious Affair at Styles but I found Murder on the Links and Poirot Investigates a little better.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Richard wrote: "Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "I've heard it's a great one but I havent gotten my hands on it yet. I'm trying to read a lot of Poirot this year too but fell behind on goal."

It's one of the g..."


I like Poirot but there are definitely times when certain books just aren't as good. Crossing my fingers with this one.


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