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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #3)
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Unofficial Poirot Buddy Read SPOILER Thread: Poirot 5 - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

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Jessica | 377 comments Welcome to the Poirot read for May. I am sure many of you are as happy as I am that we get a full-blown book this month! Though I absolutely loved the short stories, I am looking forward to a "real" long arched Poirot again.

Poirot retires to a village near the home of a friend he met in London, Roger Ackroyd, who agrees to keep him anonymous, as he pursues his retirement project of perfecting vegetable marrows. He is not long at this pursuit when his friend is murdered. Ackroyd's niece calls Poirot in to ensure that the guilt does not fall on Ackroyd's son; Poirot promises to find the truth, which she accepts.

This book is renowned for its plot twist, so who saw it coming?

Robin I agree wholeheartedly. I rarely find short stories satisfying and Christie was little different, I feel. This novel is a marvellous read and I look forward to re-reading and discussing it.

Roman Clodia | 902 comments If anyone is interested, there's a BBC radio drama version of Roger Ackroyd available on YouTube:

Tracey | 254 comments Having skipped the last couple of Poirot buddy reads, I'm back on track with this one. And actually read it early, due to my library being prompt.

I didn't spot the twist at all. And the moment it happened, I kicked myself. As in hindsight all the clues are the there. I've not read much Poirot, and have enjoyed all I've read to date, but this book was utterly brilliant. Looking forward to continuing the challange!

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I did skip the last one, due to too many reading commitments. Loved re-reading this. Poirot growing vegetable marrows and considered a possible, retired hairdresser! Love it :)

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
There are some interesting facts about this novel. It was her latest novel during the period she disappeared - it was suggested she did it for publicity.

Notably, The Big Four, her next novel, was cobbled together from various short stories and she always hated it. It will be interesting to see what we think of it.

Miss Marple was said to be inspired by Caroline Sheppard and, incidentally, it was one of the very first novels which had a braille edition.

Roman Clodia | 902 comments This is why I love Christie - an ingenious plot, plenty of plausible red herrings and sub-plots, and all the clues in plain sight. I love that 'aha' moment when all is revealed and everything fits smoothly into place.

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Yes, once you KNOW, it seems obvious. I always miss the clues...

Leslie | 592 comments I love this book - one of my favorite mysteries! One aspect that makes this so good for me is even knowing the solution, it is still a lot of fun to reread.

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
It is fun to re-read, but I am glad I didn't know the twist when I first read it :)

message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue (mrskipling) | 251 comments This is such a great book that even on re-reading it I enjoyed it. I suppose that's the sign of a great 'whodunnit'. The story and the characters are interesting enough in themselves to make it worth coming back to whereas with many crime novels, once you know the solution, any tension or excitement is gone.

I remember when I first read it though I felt a huge sense of unease, almost betrayal, when I realised the narrator was the murderer! I really liked him, and his relationship with his sister, so I didn't want him to be a bad guy!

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I think a few readers felt cheated at the time, Sue, so you were not alone.

Robin I really enjoy the spoiler thread as the detail of the book can be discussed without creating problems. To me, the value in reading is investigating how the writer achieved her aim. Christie is so clever that rereading knowing the end etc is only a minor part of the joy in reading her work.

Doris (webgeekstress) | 43 comments I think this one is even *better* on re-reading. I can appreciate even more Christie's care in making sure that her narrator is not lying, or rather, is lying only by omission.

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
You do spot the clues, and hints, once you know there are there though, don't you? They bypassed me when I first read it.

message 16: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue (mrskipling) | 251 comments Doris wrote: "I think this one is even *better* on re-reading. I can appreciate even more Christie's care in making sure that her narrator is not lying, or rather, is lying only by omission."

Yes I agree Doris, I noticed on re-reading it that he didn't lie at any point, he just left something out here and there, and when you know what happened, you can see why he was vague at certain points. I don't have the book to hand but I think at one point he says something like "I did what little needed to be done" which must have been to pull the chair out to hide the voice recorder and so on. Very clever!

message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I've finished this now - a first time read for me. Unfortunately I knew about the twist because I'd had it revealed in an unrelated article somewhere, but I've still kept out of this thread until I got to the end!

I must admit, detective stories where the narrator or detective is the killer are a pet hate of mine - it always seems like such a cheat and makes me feel as if I've wasted my time reading the book.

I've read several books with this twist, including one fairly recently, so, although I know Christie did it first, I can't recapture the excitement which readers would have had originally.

message 18: by Judy (last edited May 13, 2018 12:40AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Just to add, I did really enjoy Caroline, and can see how she showed the way forward to Miss Marple - a shame we don't have more scenes of her and Poirot together! I didn't find any of the other characters very interesting.

Editing to say that I thought the dictaphone was very clever, and would have been the cutting edge of technology at the time.

Elinor | 37 comments I read this one a few months ago and really really enjoyed it ! I did found ou who was the murderer beacause everyone telling me "you can't guess who the murderer is... this is such a twist ! incredible !" and so on and so on, plus deux people having read it discussing it spoiler-free but saying what you did, that re-reading is a lot of fun since every sentence or so has a different meaning when you know the culprit. Th mose unlikely to commit the murders, except for Poirot himself, was the narrator, so...
Still my favorite Christie so far (not that I've read a lot of them yet though)

Jessica | 377 comments Tracey wrote: ".... I didn't spot the twist at all. And the moment it happened, I kicked myself..."

I had the exact same experience! It just suddenly was the only thing that could possibly have made sense and I was seriously doubting my own grey cells for having completely neglected this possibility!

Having just freshly finished the book, one thing struck me as very weird. Why in the second-last chapter is dr. Sheppard so frequently jawning in response to Poirot's accusations? First I considered he had perhaps already taken a sleeping-draught, but that is not the case, maybe he just completely deflates after losing his hope of getting away with it? What do you think?

Robin I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd years ago, and have read it several times since. I certainly didn't spot the murderer, let alone the clues. However, on re-reading the clues are a real credit to Agatha Christie, not only in their substance, but in the way in which they are spread throughout the novel. 'I did what little had to be done' has been mentioned in another comment - how clever this was. Christie told us that Dr Sheppard was taking some action that he did not reveal. However, why would we question a doctor's account of the necessary actions that a doctor might take. Or, should he? After all, Sheppard is not a police doctor. The body has not been investigated by the police. But, Christie tells us in this small way that we are rather respectful of doctors, something that she uses in another novel. The way in which we consider people we see in authority, doctors, nurses, police, carers, parents, redoubtable women of social works renown are used to the hilt by Christie. our own prejudices hiding the clues from us. As well as alerting the reader to these failings (rather normal ones), Christie is writing more than a murder mystery. She is asking her readers to question what they see, or think they see, or believe. For a middle class rather cosseted woman (in many ways) Christie alerts the reader to more than the simple effort of solving the mystery. It is possible that she was also writing a commentary on social understandings, in the mildest of ways. This is something she does when the reader is encouraged to be blind to servants, doormen etc.

Jessica | 377 comments That's interesting Robin. I also think she plays with people's respect for certain, authority, figures. But I also think she often uses the supposed "innate goodness" of people, like inherited traits whether good or bad from parents or family. And those traits are not really used in a way to distract the reader away from the true perpetrator, hm though perhaps there are too. Here we have Charles Kent, obviously the wrong sort and heavily under suspicion, cannot possibly shake his heritage off... yet innocent of the crime.

message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Am I the only one who has enjoyed the Poirot short stories more than the novels so far? I wasn’t too keen on Ackroyd or Murder on the Links though I did really like Styles, but I liked a lot of the short stories.

Tara  | 831 comments This is one of the few murder mysteries that I have read where I figured out the killer, but only I think because I knew it had a twist ending to it. I suspected it was either the doctor, or that Ackroyd wasn't really dead, although I was leaning more heavily towards the former solution. The phone call he received to summon him to the murder scene always felt suspicious to me, and once they mentioned him tinkering around with mechanical devices, I knew they were connected.
The unreliable narrator trope is somewhat overused these days (Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train being more well-known and better executed examples), but I suspect at the time this was quite novel and unexpected. I have no clue how I have been such a Poirot fan for years, and I have never read or seen an adaptation of this story. It was a real treat, and I look forward to giving it a re-read in the future, as many of you report liking it better the second go round so that you can fish out the clues.
The one weak spot for me was the motive, as I did not feel as though there were clues in that regard within the story, but perhaps a re-read would prove me wrong there. I found it quite interesting that Poirot seemed to take the doctor into his confidence, and if he had been as clever as he supposed himself to be, perhaps he would have picked up that he was the prime suspect!

Robin Jessica wrote: "That's interesting Robin. I also think she plays with people's respect for certain, authority, figures. But I also think she often uses the supposed "innate goodness" of people, like inherited trai..."
I agree, Jessica. That is, about the innate goodness theme in Christie's novels. I think that she has a very strong moral compass, expecting villains to be punished and innocents to be exempt from censure. Her (through Poirot, in particular) desire to find the criminal so as to exonerate the innocent is really important. However, she does have clear cut cases to work with. I wonder what she would make of the grey areas that we deal with today and outside murder mysteries? There are great writers who do deal with these complexities (Patricia Highsmith, for example) and I love to read both Christie's more straight forward somewhat moral tales as well as Highsmith's with their amoral heroes, such as Ripley.

Susan | 10510 comments Mod
There is much of the 'innocent,' in Hastings, isn't there? Certainly in the next book, Poirot seems at pains to keep pointing out how worthwhile Hastings is, just for his innate goodness and innocence.

Robin Yes, Susan. Even Hasting's marriage is an example of his innocence in some ways. The falling in love with a profoundly unsuitable young woman, but his preparedness to hide what he thinks his her complicity in a murder , from Poirot. Christie avoids having to deal with the marriage by sending the couple off to South America, letting only Hastings return to London to assist Poirot. I particularly like the way in which Hastings and his character works in The Big Four, drawing the short stories into a satisfactory whole.

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