10 November 2016

Review #551: The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13) by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Our weapon is our knowledge. But remember, it may be a knowledge we may not know that we possess.”

----Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie, the Queen of Mystery, has spun and extremely intriguing crime fiction and the thirteenth tale from her Hercule Poirot series called, The A.B.C. Murders that revolves around the anonymous letters stating as well as challenging Poirot that a murder will take place in the alphabetical order in a random town, and that intrigues the clever Poirot to come out of his early retirement to catch the mad serial killer striking random people in the alphabetical manner.


There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught - until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

Poirot is tempted by the anonymous letter addressed to him stating about a murder that is going to take place is a particular town on a particular date and signed as ABC. And within no time, the letter's each word comes true as the murder of an old lady takes place on the letter's said date and place, and it seems the killer has left an ABC railway guide book beside the dead body. And pretty soon one after another murder takes place that Poirot could not stop those from happening. So four murders later, Poirot finally manages to lure the serial killer onto his trap. Although this time, Poirot uses his gray matters and logic more than the clues to come to a conclusion about this baffling serial killing case.

One of my absolute favorite Agatha Christie books that, no matter, how many times I read it, always leave me awestruck with the intensity of the thrill and with Poirot's unmatched wits that comes out strikingly only in few of the books from the Hercule Poirot series. Although the book opens bit slow, still somewhere in the middle of the story, the complexity of the plot will drown its readers and leave them anticipating till the very last page.

The writing style is eloquent and is laced with so many layers that makes this plot challenging and interesting that will keep the readers glued to the pages of this book. The narrative is equally engaging with that light French flair mixed heavily with the English undertone thereby making the story line real and enthralling for the readers. The pacing is quite fast as the author unravels her plot through so many twists and turns that will leave the readers guessing till the very end.

The mystery part is extremely well concocted by the author, in fact, I've never ever came across such a mystery book where the plot is so thick and keeps getting thicker until it deludes the readers into its unknown depth and finally in the climax, the plot gradually begins to unravel through the author's smart and clever perspective that is highly absorbing and justifiable. The mystery is one hell of a roller coaster ride filled with some highly anticipating scenes, adrenaline rushing moments and some challenging events.

The characters are, no doubt, very much well crafted through their flaws, psychological challenges, and their thorough mindset, so while reading, it will feel like taking a trip inside the head of the secondary characters apart from Poirot and his friend, Hastings. The author depicts her characters with a clear insight into the minds of those characters, thereby making her readers contemplate with the characters' demeanor easily. Poirot's charm, his French exclamations and his wit simply steals the show. Oui!

In a nutshell, this book is one of the few showstopper crime fiction books that is not only riveting but also enlightening enough for the readers to look beyond the characters demeanor and the fictional plot's development and right into the mind of such an excellent and flawless writer of all times.

Verdict: Poirot and Christie at their best!

Author Info:
Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.
During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.
On Christmas Eve 1914 Agatha married Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks. They divorced in 1928, two years after Christie discovered her husband was having an affair.
Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During this marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.
In late 1926, Agatha's husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house Styles in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.
In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie's death in 1976. In 1977, Mallowan married his longtime associate, Barbara Parker.
Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie's travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie's room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.
Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, which is in the story collection of the same name, and the novel After the Funeral. "Abney became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.
During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital of University College, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels.
To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commander.
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