The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers on January 6th, 1936
Genres: Crime, Mystery
“Words, mademoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas.”
My parents and I recently watched Murder on the Orient Express on Netflix and it inspired me to pick up more of Agatha Christie’s books! By the way, didn’t love the movie, but I’ll still be watching the sequel that’s coming out this year.
In The A.B.C. Murders, Hercule Poirot is already on the clues of Alice Asher’s murder in Andover. Alphabetically speaking, it’s one down and twenty-five more to go.
It appears that there’s a serial killer on the loose and his macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway guide beside each victim’s body. If A is for Alice Asher who was bludgeoned to death in Andover; B is for Betty Bernard who was strangled with her belt on the beach in Bexhill; then who will be Victim C?
You have to give it up to the Queen of Crime. It doesn’t matter how many Christie books I read, I can never nail down the murderer.
This is such a delicious short little mystery that keeps you guessing with this innovative premise.
The thing with Christie novels—and that’s present in this one, too—is that she never dumbs anything down.
She writes clever thrillers and expects the reader to keep up. Maybe you can guess the murderer or maybe you can’t, but it’s always a fun time deciding to take the bait or not. And yes, I feel foolish sometimes when I missed obvious clues!
What she does so masterfully with The A.B.C. Murders is that nothing is a cheap thrill or gimmick. Every choice is made with intention and it doesn’t ever feel like she’s just trying to shock readers. And that’s an issue I have with modern thrillers and mysteries.
You understand every character’s motivations and what they say or do matches with that. So you’re never confused or blindsided by anything.
If you haven’t read this classic yet, you should be aware that this novel combines first-person and third-person narrative.
I honestly thought I’d be annoyed or put off by it, but it really didn’t take away anything from the story.
As with her other novels, Christie always withholds one key clue until the very end of the book.
Normally, I’d find that frustrating, but there’s something very endearing when the Belgian mustachioed detective goes on a long monologue explaining everything at the very end.
So why isn’t a five bubble tea read? I just can’t help but compare it to Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There None. I did love this book, but for me, it doesn’t reach God tier. It sits comfortably in the Demigod tier.
If you’re looking to get into Christie’s novels, I wouldn’t start with this one. But I’d definitely make time to read it after her more famous mysteries!