Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie

"You fancy yourself, don't you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor thick-headed British police? Let us see, Mr. Clever Poirot, just how clever you can be."

The Good: A serial killer uses the alphabet to direct his crimes, first killing Alice Ascher from Andover, leaving an ABC Railway Guide behind at the scene. He sends notes to notable retired detective, Hercule Poirot, warning him of impending murders, daring the Belgian to catch him in the act. Poirot, along with sidekick Captain Hastings, travels the English countryside to discover the killer's identity.

I liked the fact that Christie took a risk and decided to play around with POV, though I had some problems with it. Within the POV there are interruptions in Hastings' narrative where the reader is given various accounts from the killer's perspective. Christie cleverly disguises and/or omits an information that might give away their identity.

It was also interesting to see the internalization of Poirot's process. His "little gray cells" have their work cut out for them but fortunately the world's favourite Belgian notices the smallest detail.

The Bad: This book just didn't have the usual flavour of a Christie novel. It was missing that usual spark of cleverness that pulls you through the story. I kept expecting to be caught up in the mystery I was bored throughout. So much so that I had to re-read the section where Poirot outs the killer. It's unfortunate but this book doesn't measure up to her usual standards.

My main issue with the book was that too much time was spent on the first three murders. I started to wonder when we would get down to the nuts and bolts of the killer's identity. As well the story probably stagnated because of a lack of action and too much talking.

The explanation itself feels forced and is unusual. When reading Christie you 'expect the unexpected' but the reasoning behind the killings in this story wasn't even in the same ballpark.

My issues with the POV concerned transition. The jump between third and first person was jarring. I can only suggest that if you're looking for a good Christie novel, skip this one. It's not worth the effort.

The Ugly: Somebody find Eli Wallach.

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