A small English village is rocked by the sudden suicide of Mrs. Ferrars, a widow long-rumoured to have poisoned her husband. Less than a day later, her new fiance, Roger Ackroyd, is found murdered in his study. With the town reeling, infamous detective Hercule Poirot is brought in to bring about justice and uncover the truth.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I have a rule when it comes to series novels – I have to begin at the beginning. When my girlfriend suggested I read this, I was a little hesitant as it is the fourth novel in the series after all. However, after doing a little light research, it doesn’t appear to be as important to be read in sequence (outside of the final novel). This is due to the many short stories that are interspersed between main series releases. Also, if I’m just judging by Poirot’s appearance in this novel, he isn’t the narrator and plays more a peripheral character that acts as sort of a glue in keeping all the suspects and witnesses together.
I was off sick from work yesterday, so I spent the entire afternoon reading the majority of this novel (I was about thirty pages in when I committed to finishing all 200 pages). When my girlfriend returned home from work, she asked me what I thought of the book and I said, “it was f*cked”. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean it in any negative way. I say that because there is such a mind-blowing, jarring twist at the novel’s conclusion that calling it “f*cked” seemed like the best, most apt response – there is a reason Agatha is considered a master of her craft.
Although it is a relatively short read, the narrative itself is an exercise in patience. Christie holds all the cards and is in no rush to unveil her hand. With each character having something to hide, secrets leak out slowly allowing for plenty of opportunities for misdirection. When I finished the story, I browsed through a few reviews on Goodreads and a shocking number of people admitted to guessing the murderer halfway through the novel. Maybe I’m not as smart as the average bear, but I didn’t see the big reveal coming.
While it is not quite as good as the first Agatha Christie book I had read (..And Then There Were None), The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is an exceptionally well-written, intricately-plotted story and a pioneer when it comes to the modern mystery novel.