The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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After reading so many contemporary novels over the past few months, last week I wanted to read something old fashioned, comforting and familiar – so I turned to Agatha Christie. It seems odd to say that a book about a murder is comforting, but there is something about Christie that is so routine and recognizable and that makes her novels a nice reprieve from modern life. And haven’t we needed an escape lately?

This novel is narrated by a Dr. Sheppard of King’s Abbot, a small village to where Hercule Poirot has retired to tend to his garden and retire from society. But as everyone there knows he is a lauded detective he gets asked to help when Roger Ackroyd, a wealthy businessman, is found stabbed to death in a locked room. With the assistance of Dr. Sheppard, Poirot goes through his usual logic-based investigations, relying on village gossip and speculation to fill in the blanks.

It all smoothly hurtles along until the reader is snapped to attention by the completely astounding ending. It’s an ending that I certainly didn’t see coming and it is so admirably clever that I sat in silent admiration for Christie’s skill after the last page had been turned.

I’ve read a lot of  contemporary mysteries lately and I have to say that this novel trumps them all. I’d forgotten what a skillful writer Christie is and how you can get lost in her books like nothing else. After finishing this I ordered a few more Poirots to read over the summer and I’m looking forward to spending a few lazy afternoons  reading about the Belgian detective and his little grey cells.

*Thanks to Simon and Rachel for mentioning The Murder of Roger Ackroyd on their “Tea or Books?” podcast and inspiring me to read it.

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M. Poirot

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I was lucky enough to have five days off at the new year and part of my time was spent watching recent episodes of Poirot. I’ve always liked to watch these mysteries around the holidays because, despite being somewhat dark, they are my idea of all that is cozy and homey. One year when I was home from grad school during the Christmas break I got a terrible cold. I remember spending days wrapped in blankets on my parents’ couch, with the heater glowing, the Christmas lights sparkling and Poirot on the television. Despite my illness, I really enjoyed that experience and now I crave Agatha Christie mysteries during every holiday season. This year I’ve been watching seasons 10 -12 , seasons that totally passed me by when they were shown on PBS. It  has been so wonderful to spend my evenings watching these stylish and clever mysteries that are perfect viewing for cold and dark nights. My favorite episode so far is ‘The Labours of Hercules’ in which Poirot pursues an art thief/murderer to an isolated hotel in the Swiss Alps. Very atmospheric and chilling!

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Are you a Poirot fan? Or do you prefer Miss Marple? What do you like to watch on frosty winter evenings?

Also, I apologize for changing my blog theme so often lately. This is what I’ll use for the rest of the year, promise!