The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, our August book club selection, is narrated by Hugh Fraser and is the 13th book in the series. Despite being so far into the series, it was refreshing to read a murder-mystery that was more intellectual in nature. Hercule Poirot is being taunted by the serial killer working his way through victims based on the alphabet, and beside his victims, he leaves the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Arthur Hastings, a longtime friend of Poirot, is excited to be working with his friend after a long time, and this book is told from Hastings’ point of view for the most part. The other narration is a third-person narrative created by Hastings’ reconstructions of other eye-witness accounts. Christie creates another mysterious layer this way because readers will always partially doubt the validity of those recollections.
The first three murders occur with little evidence of who the killer is, but once the killer decides to make an enemy of Poirot, he is bound to make mistakes. There also is a certain complexity of motive here, in which it is obscured again and again by other events and things that occur. While Hastings is in awe of his friend’s ability to solve cases, Inspector Crome is less than a fan. It’s interesting to see these two opinions face off, and it forces the reader to wonder is Poirot a super-detective or is he a man that gets lucky. Like many mysteries, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
The camaraderie between Poirot and Hastings is great, and the pace is spot on, even as the murders seem as though they will never be solved. A careful reader or listener can see the clues and figure out who the killer is, but Christie is adept at throwing in obstacles to obscure the truth. Hugh Fraser was a good narrator for Hastings, though at times some of the other characters got a bit muddled in the reading. The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie is a well written mystery that will have readers guessing and re-assessing.
About the Author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.