(Blurb for the ABC Murders from GoodReads) When Alice Asher is murdered in Andover, Hercule Poirot is already looking into the clues. Alphabetically speaking, it’s one letter down, twenty-five to go.
There’s a serial killer on the loose. His macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway Guide beside each victim’s body. But if A is for Alice Asher, bludgeoned to death in Andover, and B is for Betty Bernard, strangled with her belt on the beach at Bexhill, who will then be Victim C? Considered to be one of Agatha Christie’s best.
The ABC Murders is the thirteenth book in the Hercule Poirot series, and it’s another cracking read! The story begins when Poirot receives a letter from an apparent madman who calls himself ABC. It tells him to look out for Andover on the 21st of the month. The police believe that the letter is a harmless joke, however, Poirot is not so certain. Sure enough, on the 21st, Alice Ascher is found bludgeoned to death with a copy of the ABC railway timetable.
As fate would have it, Poirot receives a second letter from ABC. This time the letter gives the destination as Bexhill-on-sea occurring on the 25th. The next victim is Betty Barnard who is found strangled on the beach with her own belt. Once again an ABC railway guide is found beside her body. It seems to all that the victims have been selected at random, purely on the basis of their initials.
Those familiar with Poirot novels will know of Captain Hastings. He is used quite often as the narrator for these stories, and they’re often from his own viewpoint. In this case, however, the book includes a forward telling us that he wasn’t present all of the time. Again, it’s a clever ploy by the author as Hastings often forms his own opinions which quite often differ from Poirot’s. There are also times when Poirot goes off to follow his own theories, so we don’t know which trail he is pursuing.
This time around, Poirot and Hastings get some help from a group of volunteers, made up of friends and relatives of the victims. There’s also Inspector Crome, brought in after the second murder, who believes he knows best and thinks little of Poirot.
The ABC Murders differs from many of Christie’s stories which tend to take place around a single location (be it a village or mansion). On this occasion, Poirot and Hastings travel around the country to a number of crime scenes following one step behind ABC’s trail.
The ABC Murders is a classic Agatha Christie novel, full of intrigue, plot twists and many red herrings. The pace of the story is also quite brisk and well scripted. It’s another of those novels where I hadn’t got a clue who the murderer was until the big reveal.
Once again, Christie takes you back in time, to a point when life seemed so much simpler, I loved it!
Note: Although it’s the 13th Poirot novel, you don’t need to have read the others to enjoy it.