The Murder of Roger Ackroyd–Agatha Christie

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This is the good stuff. This is the book that caused a hue and cry when it was published because readers thought she hadn’t given them enough clues to find the murderer. And indeed, when I read it the first time, back in middle school, I immediately re-read it to find the clues because I was also shocked.

I’m not giving away the twist. I know, it’s not really a spoiler if it’s almost 90 years old, and you’re perfectly welcome to google the answer if you’re impatient like that.

Aside from the surprise ending, it’s a conventional Christie. I feel so poor when I read her early books, because no one has to work and everyone has all these servants. I suppose I’d have been a parlormaid if I’d lived then.

Roger Ackroyd is some sort of manufacturing bigwig, and lives with his niece and sister-in-law, having fought with his stepson.

He’s on the verge of remarrying when the woman he’s interested in commits suicide. She’d killed her first husband, who was a jerk, and had been blackmailed for it ever since. She knew Roger wasn’t a vigilante justice kind of guy, so she killed herself rather than have him turn her in. They apparently hung murderers in England then. No wonder she preferred sleeping pills.

***side note*** In these books, everyone has these prescription sleeping pills that are seriously dangerous. They’re always talking about accidental and deliberate overdoses as though a few doses would be enough to kill. I don’t know what that’s about, since modern sleeping pills are nowhere near that dangerous.

Roger gets a letter from her the next evening, revealing the name of her blackmailer. And within an hour he’s dead, stabbed through the neck with his letter opener.

***second side note*** What the hell kind of edge did these people keep on their letter openers? I can’t imagine my best knife “sliding into him like butter” the way his letter opener seemed to.

Who killed him? His niece? Her mom? His stepson? The stepson’s secret wife/parlormaid? The big game hunter visiting? The secretary? The mysterious stranger? (hint: It’s never the mysterious stranger.)

It’s a good one. If you haven’t read it and can resist the urge to google, I recommend it.

Trivia question time! What motto did James Sheppard use to describe the character of his sister, Caroline?

Answer in the next post.

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