I was so excited to read this book! The series by Agatha Christie has been a huge success and has even been turned into a drama series starring David Suchet as Poirot. The book lived up to my expectations and it was everything I had thought it would be.
Having heard so much about the series before I even started reading the book, I was surprised that it was narrated by Dr Sheppard and not Poirot himself. Poirot is the newest member of the town of King’s Abbott and has moved next door to Sheppard. It soon comes to light that Poirot is indeed THE Poirot, a private detective who recently retired. Until Roger Ackroyd is killed. The remainder of the plot follows Ackroyd’s stepson, Ralph Paton, who has mysteriously disappeared after the death of his step-father, Ackroyd’s sister-in-law, Mrs Ackroyd, and the servants and housekeeper of Roger Ackroyd who worked for him. All the above are named as suspects.
WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS.
I don’t normally tell my readers what happens at the end of the novel, as it spoils it for people who want to actually read it. However, in this case, I believe the ending is so important and an interesting twist, that I feel the need to discuss it. If you want to read this book and don’t want to know the ending then LOOK AWAY NOW.
Everything in the murder points to Ralph Paton, but what completely astounded me is that the murder was completed by Dr Sheppard himself! I couldn’t get over this. I thought it was so clever to have the story narrated by the murderer all along and I have never known another book (that I have read) to do this.
Poirot calls everyone to gather in his home to reveal all his newly made discoveries of the murder. Ackroyd was heard talking to someone at around 9.30pm and it was assumed that he was alive at this time. However, Poirot has discovered that Ackroyd had purchased a dictaphone the week before he died. So when it was thought that Ackroyd was still alive at 9.30pm, he had died a good half an hour before then! Christie is a genius. Poirot claims he knows who the murderer is and will give them until the morning to hand themselves in, otherwise he will go to the police. He asks Sheppard to stay behind, and here, all is revealed to the reader.
I loved the beginning and the ending, but felt like the rest of the novel dragged on; it probably could have been reduced by a good 50 pages. The beginning outlined the general murder and the end revealed all, whereas the middle of the plot mainly consists of Poirot and Sheppard going around interviewing various members of the public.
Something I didn’t like was how quickly the settings changed. If you’re a skim reader, then chances are you’ll miss important information.
“How say you, my friend, will you accompany me to Fernly?” (Poirot). I acquiesced, and we set out at once. Poirot asked to see Miss Ackroyd, and presently Flora came to us.
It changes so quickly from a conversation in Sheppard’s house to asking to see Miss Ackroyd and Fernley, the place of the murder.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best “whodunit” novel ever written, according to a poll of six hundred people. I have to say that although I found the middle “boring”, the rest of the novel really was outstanding, especially the twist at the end. Christie completed 66 crime novels during her lifetime, an astounding amount.
Overall, I’d say this book was worth reading if you can last through the numerous conversations in which not much happens.