The ABC Murders

Posted December 20, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 5 Comments

I’ve been loving these updated Christie covers.

The ABC Murders
by Agatha Christie
William Morrow/HarperCollins
Purchased from the Nook Store
[#68 in my 75 book challenge]

Finishing Gretchen McNeil’s Ten inspired me to read another Agatha Christie novel, since I was in the mood for murder and mystery. The ABC Murders is a Hercule Poirot mystery about a serial killer who is murdering people in alphabetical order across England. The first murder, though preceded by a warning note sent to M. Poirot himself, appears to be domestic violence. The second, a coincidence. By the third murder, the police finally understand with Poirot has seen all along — the murders are the work of calculating sociopath with some serious inferiority issues. The race is on to pin-point the killer and prevent future attacks.

The ABC Murders was different from the other Christie novels I’ve read (Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Three Blind Mice and Other Stories, and And Then There Were None) because they didn’t follow the classic Closed Circle of Suspects mystery trope. It wasn’t all, “One of us in this room…IS A MURDERER!” but more like, “Someone is killing people randomly. Let’s catch him!” Hercule Poirot does do interviews of everyone connected to the victims, in traditional Agatha Christie style, but the story just wasn’t what I was expecting.

FINAL GRADE:  C  This was not my favorite Christie novel, even though it came highly recommended from various “Best of Christie” lists. However, Christie is ALWAYS worth reading. She’s the mystery queen for a reason. Her reveals are always steller, and I’m never able to guess “whodunnit” before I’m told (though I pretty much suspect every single character in the story at some point). If you love mysteries, you’ll enjoy this novel. It would also be appropriate for middle and high school students if they can tackle Christie’s prose — which they should be able to do, though Christie writes like a 1930’s British lady.

Which Christie novel should I read next? Is there another mystery author whose novels I should try?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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5 responses to “The ABC Murders

  1. You might want to try Georgette Heyer’s mystery novels. Her character sketches are what interests me most, but the plots are clever as well. Her razor sharp wit is probably the most enduring quality of all her writing. I have heard her compared favourably with Agatha Christei.

    • Tara

      Oh! Thank you, I’ll definitely check her out. I don’t know what it is about Christmas that gets me wanting to read mystery novels?

  2. I LOVE Dame Agatha, and am slowly working my way through all her novels in order (though I’ve read a bunch out of order before this project, too). For something completely different, try one without Poirot or Miss Marple! I enjoyed The Man in the Brown Suit, which is sort of a mystery / romance / adventure (and very 1925) and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? I just finished Death on the Nile, which is a Poirot in the style you’re more accustomed to, and it was very silly, but still great.

    Louise Penny is a Canadian mystery writer that I have enjoyed a lot. I think it pays to read her books in order, too–there are seven or eight now.

    Happy reading!

    • Tara

      I would love to read her novels in order. And I never really thought about her novels without Poirot or Miss Marple — I’ll look into those. Very different!

  3. I didn’t get on with The ABC Murders when I read it, although it is quite a while ago now. If you haven’t read Death on the Nile, that’s one of my favourites, and I really like Cat Among the Pigeons as well. I’m more of a Poirot fan than Miss Marple, but I’m going to try and read some Marple next year I think!

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