Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The A.B.C. Murders: Agatha Christie

The A.B.C. Murders, also published as The Alphabet Murders, is a book in the Hercule Poirot series, published in 1936. An added plus for me is that Captain Arthur Hastings and Inspector Japp join him in this investigation. And in this case, there is another official assigned to the case, Inspector Crome, who, as usual, underestimates Poirot's abilities.

Captain Hastings is visiting Poirot, back from his ranch in South America. Poirot receives a letter hinting that a crime will take place in Andover. Thus begins a series of murders, each set in a different city. The case is unusual for Agatha Christie because it is a hunt for a serial killer, and that was not very common in the 1930's.

As I have been reading more books by Agatha Christie in the last few years, I have found every one of them to be an entertaining read, never boring. And this one was no different on that score. It was not my favorite but it has many things to recommend it.

I like the Poirot novels that are narrated by Captain Hastings; the two have a nice relationship, teasing each other but always supportive. In this case there are sections of the book not told from Hastings viewpoint, and we are warned of this. But I did not find that approach quite as effective. There seemed to me to be more characters than usual and I did get confused trying to keep track of them. Even so, I guessed what was going on, and who did it, but not the motive.

Even though I would not put this on my list of top novels by Agatha Christie, it has made many top 5 or 10 lists of Christie novels so I still would recommend it, especially if you are a Christie fan. If you are new to Christie, maybe it is not the place to start.

See other posts about this book at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist..., A Crime is Afoot, and Wordsmithonia.



This post is submitted for the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt in the "Train" category.

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Publisher:  Pocket Books, 1966. Orig. pub. 1936.
Length:     188 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Hercule Poirot
Setting:     UK
Genre:       Mystery
Source:     I purchased my copies.

25 comments:

  1. Rather new to Christie....where is the place to start?

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    1. This is hard to answer. She wrote so many books, and I haven't read that many of them within the last five years. Here are my suggestions:

      Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage
      Standalone: Crooked House
      Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express

      Moira's suggestion for Poirot was Mrs McGinty's Dead. At her blog, Clothes in Books, this post has other suggestions:
      http://clothesinbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/christie-firsts-best-introductory-books.html

      I have seen other lists of this type that suggest:
      And Then There Were None
      Death on the Nile
      The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

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    2. The first Christie I read was "Murder of Roger Ackroyd". It was assigned by my English teacher. After that, I read "Murder on the Orient Express", the best Poirot mystery. Since I turned 66, I've been reading more Poirot, it's hard to find fiction where a senior citizen is portrayed heroically. After that, I would recommend "And Then There Were None", the best-selling of all of Christie's novels & arguably her masterpiece.

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    3. Thanks for making those suggestions, Taylor. I was hoping someone would have more suggestions. I definitely need to read And Then There Were None. I don't think I have ever read that or even seen a TV or film adaptation. And you are right, Poirot is a great senior citizen detective.

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    4. Thank you all for the suggestions! Tracy, your links are very helpful and I have saved them on my challenge list under CF. I'm going to make myself a challenge....read all AC's books between now and December 2018. It should be fun!

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    5. You are quite welcome, Nancy. I started reading through Agatha Christie books in 2012 and haven't progressed as fast as I would have hoped. Maybe I will read more Christie mysteries next year.

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  2. You make a well-taken point, Tracy, about the way Christie does the narration here. It works for some folks; not for others. But it's definitely different, isn't it? And I do like the way Christie portrays the reality of losing someone as Poirot talks to the first victim's niece, the second's parents, and so on. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, even if it's not on your list of Christie's very best.

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    1. I am glad you pointed out the personal issues that get brought up in this novel, Margot. Christie often doesn't get credit for that kind of character development.

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  3. I have heard that this is one of best works. Yet to read it. I am a big Agatha Christie fan

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    1. I am sure you will enjoy it when you get to this book, Shalet Jimmy. I have not been reading as many books by Christie lately. I need to read more of them.

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  4. Tracy, you're twisting my arm! A week or two ago I downloaded Destination Unknown. You see, my resistance is giving way!

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    1. Mathew, a few years ago I was resistant to reading Agatha Christie novels, although I had read many of them when I was much younger. When I started reading them again, I found much to appreciate in the books. Her books are well worth sampling.

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  5. I've heard nothing but good thing about this book. I don't think I have a favorite yet. The three I've read have been all strong Christie books. --Keishon

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    1. I have only read 15 or 16 of Christie's books since I started blogging, and don't remember the ones I read before that, Keishon, so I only have a top five or six out of those. But all of her books have good elements.

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  6. This is one of my Christie favorites, Tracy. I have it in book and audio forms and make sure to read or listen to it about once a year. The ABC crime theory used today in fiction and reality came right from Christie's invention. I always felt that the novel should have gone on a bit longer with at least one more victim, but that's just bloodthirsty old me. Ha.

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    1. I don't know why this one doesn't agree with me, Yvette. It isn't that I don't like it, it just doesn't thrill me like some of her books do. This is another series I need to read more often. I am way far behind on Miss Marple.

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  7. Tracy, not one I will be reading but I'll get to her some day.

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    1. I do hope you do get to an Agatha Christie novel one day and it is one you like, Col.

      On another topic, I have to tell you that we have recently been watching some TV shows and a movie that you have alerted us to... over the years. One was George Gently. We are at Season 2, ep. 1 and we both like it a lot. Another is Brooklyn 99, we are actually re-watching Season 1. And the last is Parker, with Jason Statham. We just watched that this weekend and really enjoyed it.

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    2. I think I may have a couple to choose from 4.50 FROM PADDINGTON rings a bell but it's not logged yet. CROOKED HOUSE and FIVE LITTLE PIGS are the definites.

      I'm glad you liked Parker with Statham and the others. I like Jason Statham's films - he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously.

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    3. I haven't read Five Little Pigs, Col, but I have heard good things about it.

      We are fans of Statham: we like Snatch (a lot) and The Bank Job. We should probably try other films he is in.

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  8. I usually put it in my top 5 actually - along with AND THEN THERE WERE NONE I think it has to be considered her most influential story.

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    1. I think a lot of Christie fans like this book a lot more than I did, Sergio. Even though it is clear that this book was a big influence, it just did not grab me like some of her other books have. Maybe just my mood at the time.

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  10. Hello Tracy! I'm a little late to this discussion, but wanted to say thanks for your review! It brought back memories -- I read this in my impressionable teens, and still remembered the plot and solution, which almost never happens -- and I even had the Penguin Pocket paperback with the red cover that you show here. I was inspired to get the David Suchet TV adaptation from the reliable local library, and watched it the other night. Thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks for taking me down Golden Age Detection memory lane. Hope you're well --- Jason

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    1. Thanks for telling me about the TV adaptation with David Suchet, Jason. I have been wanting to watch some of those and don't know if all of them are good and worth watching. I am behind on my project to read all the Agatha Christie books (roughly in order).

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