The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Published by Harper Paperbacks

From the publisher:

There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic.

A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident—but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake.

For the first time EVER while reading a Christie mystery I figured out the identity of the murderer, and quite a way before the end of the book, at that. What I can’t figure out is whether this is a great accomplishment on my part, or a failing on Christie’s. To me, the murderer was obvious from a great way off, and the very serious red herring she threw in the reader’s path not at all convincing – until nearly the end of the book when it very nearly was, but even then it was too obvious to be the real answer. If pressed for a decision, I would say that perhaps The A.B.C. Murders is not Christie’s most strongly constructed book, but I have also read a great many of her books this year, and in other circumstances might not have guessed the culprit so quickly.

For all the Christie I’ve read, this was only my second experience with Poirot, the first being Three Act Tragedy, which, coincidentally, shared some essential plot similarities with The A.B.C. Murders, despite the visible differences. I do think this is a better example of a Poirot mystery, in Three Act Tragedy he took a much smaller role, compared with the persons most directly affected by the crime. In The A.B.C. Murders Poirot is right in the thick of the action. As much as I typically read the standalones, I did enjoy this experience with Poirot.

The A.B.C. Murders is a solid book from Agatha Christie, and a good example of a Poirot book, but if you’ve spent too much time immersed in her work, you’re likely to guess the identity of the murderer disturbingly early.

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6 comments to The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

  • Kay

    I am a Christie lover, but this one is not a favorite of mine. Can’t remember why right now, as it has been years since I read it. It’s always a pleasure to see her careful building of a plot and placement of clues though. My favorite Poirot books include DEATH IN THE CLOUDS and CARDS ON THE TABLE. Well, and DEATH ON THE NILE.

  • I have always been more a fan of Marple than Poirot.

  • One day I really must read some Agatha Christie… Hopefully sometime this year.

  • I became a Poirot fan late, I was always a Marple girl. I now love them both equally. I don’t think I’ve read this one though I have seen it (the David Suchet version) and remember figuring it out pretty quick. But even when I do figure it out I enjoy seeing how Poirot does it.

  • I like Poirot and his little grey cells, but this one is not among my favorites either. The Murder of Roger Akroyd and Curtain, near first and last, are two of the best. I also recommend Sad Cypress, Death on the Nile, and After the Funeral.

  • Congrats on solving the mystery! I did not figure it out at all although this was my first Christie so maybe that’s why. The only one I’ve solved in its entirety is Five Little Pigs (I’ve figured out some plot twists and red herrings in other books). This is another Poirot book you might want to check out :)