Friday, 21 June 2013

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

I've been finding it difficult to gather the time and attention to read for the past few weeks and I thought I'd try something a bit lighter to try and get those pages turning for me again. It has been anything up to thirty years since I read any Agatha Christie but I did read a large number of her books in my early adolescence. I may or may not have read this one, at times it seemed familiar but familiarity is one of the reasons to read Christie.

Indeed I found myself reminded of other books from my childhood that I've recently been reading for my ten year old and that I probably read at around the time I was reading books by Christie - Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys etc. Christie is far more sophisticated than these but there are many structural similarities. It moves swiftly from set up to denouement with the minimum of excess writing. At its heart is an England of leafy lanes and villages, upstairs and downstairs, gardeners and parlour-maids, with the addition of intrigue and murder most foul.

This is a world where loose ends are an indication of a failure in plotting rather than an approach towards realism. There is always something reminiscent of mathematical formulae in these books, but without the stringency of maths because the author doesn't define many of the elements until the answer has been given. Deductions made by the detective (in this case Hercule Poirot, coming out of retirement) are presented as logical, often with the flimsiest of arguments. This is a world that makes sense, where little happens that doesn't carry the burden of meaning (even if that meaning is defined after the fact)

What else? We get a floor plan which seems a kind of embryological Cluedo. Modernity (in 1926) is emphasised by the use of a recently invented dictaphone. And of course, among the clues:  rings, open windows, clandestine meetings, cocaine addict etc, lies a twist which brought something new to the genre and results in this often being classed as Christies' masterpiece.

A quick and easy read. Have fun guessing the culprit.


  1. My wife is a big Agatha Christie fan. When I ask her what Christie books I should read she always tells me this one or And Then There Were None. This really does sound good.

    1. Unfortunately, I came across a comment which kind of gave the game away while reading although I had a sort of sneaking suspicion which may have come from reading it before. It does what it says on the tin, though.

  2. Oh, I love a bit of Agatha. It's like comfort food !!

  3. Ok, I'm in. This'll be my first Agatha...