THE ABC MURDERS by Agatha Christie
Our cottage has bookshelves full of books inherited from the previous owners, ancient copies of pot-boilers and classics, along with books we have read and left there. We now keep all of the mystery novels we read at the cottage, where they sit in the company of old copies of Perry Mason, Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie. They are insurance that you will never be without a book to read if the stack you’ve brought out for the week are lacking. A few weeks ago I found myself without a new book at the cottage and picked up an old Agatha Christie novel form the bookshelf. I felt like I was spending the day with an old friend – thoroughly comfortable and satisfying in every way.
The ABC Murders was published in 1936 and has never gone out of print. Agatha Christie is called “the Queen of crime” for good reason. Her novels are entertaining, well written, clever and humorous – and a good mysteries to boot.
This story opens with the murder of and “elderly woman” of about 60 years old. Funny already. We meet Hercule Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings, who is back in England for a short time, after moving to a ranch in South America. Hastings has come to see Poirot, now mostly retired, Poirot takes on only a few cases of special interest. Hastings notices that Poirot seems hardly to have aged – in fact his hair seems even blacker now than it did years earlier. Hastings meanwhile is very sensitive about his thinning hair – but not enough to visit Poirot’s hairdresser.
Poirot who claims “I am better than the police” is of course much more observant and analytical in his approach than Hastings, and he does, as always, solve the crime in question. Just when you think you have it all figured out there is a twist at the very end to satisfy even the most clever reader.