If there’s one thing I love, it’s a cozy mystery -- British preferred. I have seen every episode of Murder, She Wrote several times. I can watch Columbo episodes again and again. Agatha Raisin? Loved it. I’ve seen all of Poirot, Father Brown, Miss Fisher, Shakespeare & Hathaway, Rosemary & Thyme, Queens of Mystery and others. Not all of them work for me, but many do. So for my next book, I decided to not go for another memoir but to try a mystery novel instead.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a Poirot story by
Agatha Christie, published in 1926. I got the audiobook version, read by Hugh
Fraser, who happens to play Captain Hastings on Poirot. He did a
terrific job of reading/performing this story, including doing a good Poirot
A couple of things stuck out to me in this novel. First, I
must have read it before. Actually read it. I knew who the murderer was almost
immediately. I’ve only read maybe three Agatha Christie novels, millions of
years ago, so I thought it would be unlikely that I would select an audiobook
of one of those that I’ve read, but that’s what happened.
If you’ve ever read any Agatha Christie, then you will know
that guessing the murderer is nearly impossible. She withholds vital
information until the very end, or introduces a new character at the very end.
One of my favorite movies, Murder by Death, has a speech near the end
about the frustration of reading stories by a writer like Christie. I found a
copy of the speech online, which might not be accurate, but you get the point:
“You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've
tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced
characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've
withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did
it. But now, the tables are turned. Millions of angry mystery readers are now
getting their revenge. When the world learns I've outsmarted you, they'll be
selling your $1.95 books for twelve cents.” -- Lionel Twain
That sums up my experience. So when I watch an episode of Poirot
or Marple, I don’t try to figure out who did it. That is an impossible
task. I just enjoy seeing the detective at work. Christie is a good writer and
reading or listening to her work is enjoyable.
The second thing that stuck out to me was how easy her
stories are to adapt to TVs and movies, which is probably why they remain so
popular. The novel sounded almost like someone reading a screenplay. The
dialogue was complete. The characters were complete. The locations were visual
and the story was engaging.
I tried to find the TV version of this story, but for some
reason it isn’t available on the subscription services I have, and I don’t want
to pay extra just to watch it. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but for now that’s
where I’m at.
Overall, this was a great title to listen to while pulling
up crabgrass in my yard, and I’m leaving the door open to listening to more
stories written by Agatha Christie.