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Follow the Author
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot) (Hercule Poirot Series Book 4) Kindle Edition
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“A classic – the book has worthily earned its fame.”
About the Author
Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976, after a prolific career spanning six decades.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B0046A9MRW
- Publisher : HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (14 October 2010)
- Language : English
- File size : 1863 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 260 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 16,253 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Even though I have read this book before, I am still taken in by the power of Agatha Christies's writing. The twist ending still surprises.
This book still puts many modern writers to shame with its pacing, development of characters, and narrative.
The choice of narrator is brilliant.
This book shows that one can write a murder mystery without having a gunfight which seems to be a necessity for many American novels of this genre.
The endding twist is hinted at and yet took me by complete surprise. I need to learn to use my 'little grey cells'
This is the first Agatha Christie book I've read and it made my subsequent watching of another Poirot mystery on TV last night much more enjoyable.
This Poirot mystery from 1926 is the book that made Christie’s name. It remains famous and almost everyone who comes to it for the first time these days does so with the knowledge that the murderer is the narrator, Dr Sheppard, and not only that but that he also acts as Poirot’s Watson. This created controversy at the time of publication, one that that has bubbled away ever since. Had Christie practised some unfair deceit on readers by presenting matters to them – or having the narrator present them - as other than they were known to the narrator?
Christie’s defence, raised at a later date, was that ‘... it is not unfair to leave things out. In Roger Ackroyd ... there is lack of explanation, but no false statement’. This is disingenuous. There are sins of omission as much as sins of commission. (And in fact it obviously is unfair to leave things out when they are necessary to solve the puzzle.)
But the dispute seems to me to be off-target. The issue is not whether Christie violated some more or less arbitrary rule of fair play, but whether the device employed was crude or meretricious in a literary sense. Why should Sheppard conceal at the beginning of the narrative what he is willing to reveal at the end – that he is the murderer? What could the purpose be for this illogicality but the deliberate and artificial mystification of the reader and the greater glory of Poirot? Is not the device a little tawdry?
In fact Christie avoids this, and how she does so is at once simple and very clever. It is perhaps the most original feature of the book. She makes Sheppard’s objectives when he begins writing his manuscript very different from those he has when he comes to finish. Thus he has an interest in concealment at the outset, but none at the end.
In any case, it can readily be guessed early on that Sheppard is the culprit. The difficult nut to crack is how he managed the crime. The book is thus more of a howdunit than a whodunit. Very few readers, if any, will manage the task. By way of consolation they are cleverly thrown a couple of sops. Thus, for instance, most will have the satisfaction of working out the existence and nature of the two romantic entanglements.
Characterisation is generally flat. Mrs Ackroyd, Flora Ackroyd, the feckless nephew and ostensible chief suspect, the big game hunter, the superior parlourmaid, the urbane secretary, the shifty butler, the reserved housekeeper, all come courtesy of a particularly unimaginative central casting. Sheppard himself is quite colourless apart from the by-play between him and his spinster sister, Caroline, the organisational genius behind the village rumour-mill. This is excellent comedy, and Caroline herself is a fine creation. As for Poirot, he is, as usual, merely no more than the sum of a bundle of mannerisms but, by and large, these are mercifully kept within bounds here ... just
The shallow cast is not really a problem. The interest is not in them but in the nature of the individual secrets they are burdened with, and how these relate to the puzzle. And the puzzle itself is absorbing. Such problems as there are with the book are, paradoxically, largely in the premises of the puzzle.
If one steps back and takes a leisurely contemplative look at it, one sees clearly that it is a lot like a Rhine castle knocked up on a Hollywood back-lot, convincing in a selected light and from the right angle only, but not standing up to any serious scrutiny. There is the nonsense about the mental institution isolated from the outside world, the convenient confection about the steward on the American liner that is necessary to explain the phone call and which is the only piece of firm incriminating evidence - no fair play there, the garden full of people who manage to avoid seeing each other by a miracle of fortuitous timing, Poirot’s unlikely and unexplained knowledge of the butler’s secret history as a blackmailer, Sheppard’s amateur mechanical bent leading to his fluky opportunity with the dictaphone with its opportune recorded message which there is no guarantee of anyone hearing in any case, the unconvincing off-hand explanation as to why Ackroyd concealed his possession of the dictaphone, and so on.
But the pace is well-handled and there is a lot going on, and more is added all the time, so that the reader simply does not have time to look critically at the plausibility of events as a whole. There is at most a sensation that the revelations and complexities are a little too carefully choreographed and ordered, that the detail is being organised so that some sleight of hand can be orchestrated. Indeed that is the case, but the worst that can be said of it on the fly of a first reading is that it is a little arch.
And, once one accepts the nonsense of the factual background, it is hard not to be impressed by Poirot’s analysis.
There are some minor irritations, ones to be found in most Christies. For example, there is at least one lapse in proofing. (There is a contradiction concerning Ackroyd’s age.) There is Poirot’s indifferent mastery of French. (There is only one example here, but it is a particularly grating one, consisting of a literal translation into French of an English idiom: ‘Je ne pense pas’.) Poirot affects to have a consuming interest in a matter (here the colour of some shoes) where his interest is really in some related matter, but where there is no reason for being misleading about it.
And there is, of course the obligatory anti-Semitic remark. Here it is a statement implying that all money-lenders are Jews who masquerade as Scotsmen. (This particular slur is exceedingly common in fiction of the period, and I expect it has a well documented history.)
This is being picky, but there is no doubt the book would be improved without these things.
Anyway, the story is very English and very traditional (apart from the solution) and even though it is quite dated it is still a gripping read. Since it features Hercule Poirot this fact alone makes it an essential member of your reading repoirtoire. The pages absolutely reek atmosphere Characterisation is excellent.
Few books stand the test of time like this classic has. JRR Tolkien may have created a genre with the stroke of his pen, but it's fair to say that with the completion of this novel, Agatha Christie perfected hers.
Top reviews from other countries
It starts with you wondering what is going on as it is told in the first person. That person lives with his sister, Caroline, a terrible gossip who is always fishing for information and sticking her nose into other people’s affairs. If you dislike gossips, this book is worth reading for the description of her character alone e.g.:
'...The motto of the mongoose family, so Mr Kipling tells us, is: “Go and find out.” If Caroline ever adopts a crest, I should certainly suggest a mongoose rampant. One might omit the first part of the motto. Caroline can do any amount of finding out by sitting placidly at home…'.
Christie doesn’t let up – Caroline appears throughout the book and the descriptions of her are pithy.
In this book, Poirot is semi-retired. A murder unfolds and there are two oddities – two things that don’t make any sense. One of them is that the murder scene has been slightly changed. “Surely it isn’t important?” says one of the characters to Poirot. Poirot replies: “It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting”. For the rest of the book, you are left trying to figure out why it might be important, before Christie’s hallmark ‘grand reveal’ at the end of the book.
I found the mystery intriguing. I also smile at how things have changed since the book was written e.g. ‘It was Friday night, and on Friday night I wind the clocks…’; the arrival of the ‘evening post’; and a number of references to ‘the electric light’ - I find it interesting that back in 1926 when this book was written, they called a ‘light’ an ‘electric light’.
This was listed in the Guardian as one of Christie’s Top 10 books. However I would not read the synopsis on that web page as it hints at something which you don’t want to know (i.e. what the Guardian says is a bit of a spoiler).
I found the book a bit slow at the start but it gets better. Very much recommended.