The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
Rating : 5/5
There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.
I love mysteries and am currently on an Agatha Christie spree, especially the best of Hercule Poirot. Searching online for the top ten Hercule Poirot mysteries, the name of this book popped up amongst a few others. After purchasing a total of three books, I decided to start with this one in particular for no specific reason. Usually I am not deterred in my reading of a mystery book irrespective of the fact that I know the ending or not. With Agatha Christie, normally, there is no way that a reader stands the chance of guessing the complicated mystery. Yet, a little into this book, I started detecting a trace of something familiar. Soon, I recognised that the immense popularity of this book has led to many movies across different languages – credited and non-credited. A super hit movie in my mother tongue had a story very similar to that of this novel. So, while thoroughly enjoying the book and stacking the clues in my brain, I was also guessing whether the story of the book and the uncredited movie is exactly the same.
Unlike other Agatha Christie novels, this book experiments with multiple point of views. I believe this approach was tried by Christie in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd too. The different point of views, apart from that of Hastings (Watson to Poirot’s Sherlock), are also penned down by Hastings himself (with specific mention that it is not from his diaries) but from his conjecture and his understanding of the crime and the criminal. Even though the presence of a serial killer is introduced at the beginning of the book, with even a taunting letter challenging and directly addressed to Poirot, the thorough mind of Poirot struggles to find a motive. He firmly believes that the solution of the crime lies in the motive as well as the understanding and piecing together of the personality of the psychopathic killer.
Poirot closely interacts with the police force in this case and Christie has highlighted the superior attitude of the investigating officer. The sarcasm of Hastings is not that visible in this novel when compared to the others and Poirot too refrains from a lot of vain comments. The usual scene where Poirot unmasks the mystery in a group gathering of the interested parties soon takes the mystery to a whole new level. Yet again, Christie deftly manages to have an upper hand in the mystery by fooling the readers with red herrings and suspicious characters.
If you are a reader to whom the climax is of utmost importance, then definitely read the book before watching any adaptations. As many adaptations are uncredited, like me, there is a chance you might have unknowingly seen a movie dealing with similar premises. For the others, this book will definitely throw you a curve ball. An absolute must-read book from Agatha Christie featuring Poirot.