Saturday, 9 December 2017

Detectives Don't Get to Retire (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie)


You are not allowed to put this novel down. Not before the end. The genius of it is in the twist ending. Did I get it? Just in the nick of time. The moment I knew a certain character had lied, I knew. But a little part of me still doubted. A little part of me thought, "It can't be."

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a Poirot novel told from the perspective of Dr Sheppard, a mild-mannered country doctor who lives with his gossip-loving older sister, Caroline. Caroline knows everything, and I do mean everything, about everyone. She's a detective in her own right, though not quite as intuitive as we're led to believe. Poirot himself is delightfully eccentric.

The mystery begins when Mrs Ferrar, who poisoned her husband (not a spoiler), commits suicide. Before her death, she sent a letter to Roger Ackroyd explaining that she was being blackmailed (also not a spoiler). In the letter is the name of the blackmailer, but Roger Ackroyd never reads it. Roger Ackroyd dies first. 

In a big country house, there are a lot of suspects. Was it the butler? One of the housekeepers? An impoverished female relative? Or perhaps the victim's adopted son? It ends with all of them gathered in a room, with the detective confronting them as a group. I've always been told that many detective novels end this way, but I've never read one before. The end of chapter 23 in particular amused me - Christie has a real flair for the dramatic. Woman after my own heart.

Have you read any classic detective novels?