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Agatha Christie began writing at the end of the First World War when she first created Hercule poirot the little Belgian detective who is probably one of the most famous sleuths in the history of crime fiction. The ABC Murders is another one of Hercule Poirot 's successful cases solved with and in the company of his beloved friend Captain Arthur Hastings..
The story of The ABC Murders
The narrative is a combination of first person account from Captain Hastings point of view and it also has third person narrative ..
In 1935 Hastings visited his London home from his Ranch at South America for a period of six months since he had various affairs to take care of in London where he meets his old friend Poirot . Poirot has just received an anonymous letter that teases, taunts ( " Let us see, Mr. Clever Poirot, just how clever you can be." ) and at the same time challenges him to crack a mystery , asking him to look out for Andover on the 21st of the month. Poirot says that there was something about the letter that he did not like .And on the 21st an old woman of the name Alice Ascher who kept a small tobacco and newspaper shop is found murdered . And besides her body lay a copy of the ABC Railway guide which was open at the relevant page...
Follows another letter giving another place Bexhill this time for B and a date. And on that day Betty Barnard a young girl is found strangled and the ABC Railway guide was found open next to the body at the relevant page... And then it is C - and this time Sir Carmichael is clubbed and killed at Churston while taking an evening walk around his country house , with of course the ABC railway gude lying next to him...Then comes the fourth - the 'D' murder in Doncaster which goes awry - the wrong person gets murdered . This seems either a mistake on the murderers part or was there another reason behind it?
After Inspector Japp begins his investigations , unexpectedly a stocking salesman called Alexander Bonaparte Cust walks into the police station and surrenders himself taking the blame for all the murders. But Hercule Poirot was not satisfied with this turn of events ans he was determined to get to the bottom of the whole affair and find the real killer who had manipulated Alexander Bonaparte and also himself ..
My views on this book
The story is very interesting but I would not call this one of her best written fictions. The whole theme seems a bit immature . But , going by the various reports I have read on the net and elsewhere , The ABC murders was a huge success when it was first published and was chosen by the crime club as the book of the month.
It is considered by some as one of her best crime thrillers.
Like they say when Agatha Christie is good she is very very good and when she is bad she is still o;k and I would say that this book comes somewhere in between. It is not fair to call this book just O;K, it is certainly better than that. It has an unusual story line and narrative which makes it different . The story is about a serial killer who is ruthless and kills with a purpose .
The best part about the book is the interactions between Hastings and Hercule Poirot . Poor Hastings is perpetually at the receiving end with Poirot speaking enigmatically about the case and advising him to use ' the grey cells' which makes Captain Hastings frustrated and exasperated most of the time .
The pages dealing on the investigations made by Inspector Japp who is a regular in most Hercule Poirot mysteries and the parallel investigation led by Poirot and Hastings is no doubt very interesting and absorbing. But the climax was not what I hoped it would be, a bit of a let down. This is yet another one of her psychological thrillers where she probes into the mind of the killer . There are lots of plot twists as Poirot uses his grey cells to solve th complicated mystery. I love Hercule Poirot mysteries and one could easily get addicted to Poirot and Agatha Christie.
There are a few negative points , mainly the characters , none of them stand out except probably the unsure and exasperating Alexander Bonaparte who you feel like shaking hard ..
I would definitely recommend this book for all the fans of Agatha Christie and others too . If you are in the mood to read a good mystery this is it !...In my opinion Agatha Christie's novels can never disappoint you ..
It may be said that "The ABC Murders" was Christie's answer to any accusations that much of Poirot's cases were too simplistic, too orderly, too contained. They took place in houses, on boats or on trains, the murderer could only be one of a selected number of people, all known in some capacity to the deceased. Thus, it was possible for the Belgian detective to employ his policies of order and method thirty six times at least, to calmly question the small group set before him and quietly come to the satisfactory conclusion. How, therefore, might be cope if the net was to be cast further afield, if the killings appeared to be entirely random and with no connection to each other? This is the basis of "The ABC Murders", in which a murderer is killing seemingly random people based on their name and location.
That Poirot was capable of solving these sorts of murders in the past should be inferred by our knowledge that he was, prior to moving to England as a refugee and becoming a private detective, a member of the Belgian Police force. Whether he will be capable of doing so again remains to be seen. We are taken on a literal and metaphorical journey throughout this novel as Poirot endeavours to use all his powers of deduction, alongside his psychological analysis of the crimes in question, to discover the true identity of the murderer.
Christie has ensured that the reader is forced to question their own examination of the novel as it is being read, to realise that deception and sleight of hand is played not just on the characters within the story, but upon the readers themselves. Poirot's characteristic wish to uncover the truth, to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and the innocent are released from the bonds of suspicion or accusation are fully evident within this story. There are times in which it appears that the killings can not be solved, that the murderer must continue unabated and it is this sense of doubt that makes the novel all the more gripping.
Whether this story deserves a negative counterpoint depends on what you are looking for in a detective story. From a personal viewpoint, like Poirot himself, I prefer order and method to my works, that there shoudl be a set nubmer of characters, a set number of clues and that, like putting the pieces of a jigsaw together, the reader should be able to assemble said information and use it to making the best guess at who the murderer might be. Consequently, the fact that the murderer turns out to be someone we are introduced to earlier on in the novel is something which I am pleased about. In terms of realism, however, the fact that there is no random serial killer might lead one to believe that Christie could not bring herself to presenting Poirot with a stronger challenge.
The story moves along swiftly, the body count is high even for a Christie novel and the desperate attempts to discover the murderer, for Poirot to establish his position as what he considers to be the greatest detective, are firmly established. This is one of Christie's finest works, drawing the reader in to a race not only to prevent further murders, but to prevent an innocent man from self destruction.
The ABC murders is possibly one of Agatha Christie' s cleverest and most intricate novels yet. when the book starts there is a serial killer loose, one who is working his or her way through the alphabet by selecting his victims based on theirs and their towns name, and after each crime leaving an ABC railway guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place, beggining in Andover. The whole country is on tenter hooks and it seems the only person who could stop him is Hercule Poirot- but will even he make it in time?
The reader follows two accounts that of Poirot and his faithful sidekick captain hastings and that of the mysterious Mr ALexander Bonapart Cust. when all fingers seem to point in one direction, a crucial mistake on the part of the murderer causes Poirot to re-examine...
...This book is absolutely fantastic, gripping from the very first page, and from there impossible to put down. with unexpected twists to thicken the plot this is an timeless and unmissable read.
Thank you and please rate.
Agatha Christie's world-famous serial killer mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught -- until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans!