The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a popular Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie. Chronologically, it happens toward to end of Poirot’s career and maybe I should have reviewed other books of Poirot before picking this one. But I am in a rush to write the most reviews possible for our Author of the Month.
The cozy British village of King’s Abbot has typical inhabitants. There is the harried Dr. Sheppard who lives with his spinster sister. The local squire is Roger Ackroyd who has amassed millions but has no children. He does have a house full of family members though. Ralph Paton is the step son and has been with Ackroyd since childhood. Flora is the niece from Canada and makes her home with Ackroyd along with her mother. Major Blunt is a visiting friend. Raymond is the devoted assistant. Mrs. Ferrars is a village widow and there is talk of Ackroyd and her hooking up.
The first difference you will notice here from other Hercule Poirot mysteries is that there is no Captain Hastings. I really miss him here. And so does Poirot. As he turns out, his dream retirement of growing marrows has lost its charm. He happens to be the doctor’s neighbor and tells him how he misses his friend’s stupidity (poor Hastings)!
Dr. Sheppard is the narrator and is a meticulous one. As he says, gossip is the main activity and entertainment in the village of King’s Abbot. In fact, everyone thrives on gossip as there is nothing else to do. Things take a turn when Mrs. Ferrars commits suicide. Ackroyd is very disturbed. Ralph Paton who is supposedly in London is spotted in the village. The doctor is summoned for dinner by a nervous Roger Ackroyd and a story of blackmail tumbles out. The doctor is unceremoniously dispatched because Roger Ackroyd wants to be alone.
Minutes later, Roger Ackroyd is found dead under shocking circumstances. The investigation begins and Ralph Paton is suspected. Flora hires Hercule Poirot to solve the case. Poirot and his little grey cells go into overdrive. Poirot apprentices Dr. Sheppard for the investigation.
Everyone has something to hide and new secrets are revealed by almost every person as the investigation progresses. Why is Ralph Paton in hiding?
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a must read because its end is more shocking than the typical Poirot novel. The plot is ingenious, and the true culprit is beyond your wildest imagination. A similar strategy is used in Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s book that is still in the Top 100. There has been a lot of praise for the writing style or plot devices in Gone Girl. When you read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, you will realize that these have been used before, by none other than the master of detective fiction, Agatha Christie. I think I have already revealed a lot and will not say any more.
Hercule Poirot is slightly low key here. We do not hear much about his mustaches or sirops or gourmet meals, nor about the formidable Miss Lemon. But The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is quintessentially Hercule Poirot, and a must read for all Agatha Christie fans.
Grab your copy or check it out from your library.