Disclosure: Links marked below with * are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click and purchase an item.
On the fence with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and a huge fan of Murder on the Orient Express, I was basically done reading her two most famous works and wondering, “So what next?” After looking up reviews, I decided that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd would be a good contender because of the largely positive reviews and declarations that this was her best written work; basically, it was supposed to be an underrated masterpiece. I was especially drawn to the fact that the end was an incredible plot twist and shock, but alas, that was the downfall for me.
I think the problem was that I was waiting for the dramatic ending the whole time I was reading the book, and with such high expectations comes nothing but disappointment. The ending, although I could tell it was very well thought out and clever, was not as shocking as lots of reviewers on-line insisted. I think it’s sadly to do with the fact that there are so many crime shows influenced by older tales of Sherlock and Hercule Poirot now that stuff like this seems to have been done too many times, when the reality is that Christie was really one of the first to do such a twist. However, as someone who frequently watches crime shows, I wasn’t too shocked by the culprit at the end–rather, s/he was a contender for the get-go for me, more so because I knew ahead of time that the great reveal was supposed to be a huge surprise.
I am more disappointed than anything that I went into the book knowing that I was supposed to be shocked. I really wonder how it would have been if I had not known ahead of time, like with Murder on the Orient Express. However, while the novel was well planned out, it concluded rather abruptly, with almost too-convenient explanations of details and new information provided by Poirot. Once the information is given, it’s quite evident who the criminal is, so if the clues had been given in advance, the mystery would have been solved much earlier, meaning everything seemed to have been prolonged unnecessarily. Christie’s wrap-up was better for Murder on the Orient Express, as all the details were given ahead of time–it was really the piecing together that had to be done, and couldn’t have been done without Poirot until the end. On the other hand, with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, key information had been withheld until the end, in my opinion. There wasn’t as much piecing together of the facts than the necessary acquiring of said facts. Plus, the motive and character development for the culprit seemed weak and to have come from nowhere.
Otherwise, the book was well-written and structured in true Christie style. She has an amazing sense of direction for her story, which I find admirable. Everything, to the minutest details, were planned ahead of time so that every single reveal, saying, and action was placed impeccably and purposefully (apart from my protests about the clues revealed at the last minute). I think this is something that’s quite lacking in the suspense thrillers of today’s books (like The Lying Game), which seem considerably messier and more dramatic than they have to be. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd had a very slow beginning and set-up, actually, but around the middle, you won’t be able to stop reading. The pacing was fine.
The characters are well fleshed out with lots of great plot twists and reveals throughout the story. The details and perspectives are riveting, which prove Christie is a talented writer. Overall, I would say that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was a good and quite easy read (nothing too complex or flowery in her direct style of storytelling). I would say give it a shot* for sure, because you may be amazed; just know there still is a possibility for disappointment. In my opinion, it isn’t her greatest piece of work like some others have claimed. My favorite is still Murder on the Orient Express.
I’m considering The A.B.C. Murders next, though! Any spoiler-free opinion on that before I get a copy?