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I have to say that after The Mysterious Affair at Styles, I was getting a bit dismayed by the Christie formula, and wondering how many more genteel tales of homicide I could take. But The A.B.C. Murders is a cut above any of the other Christies I have recently read, apart from the superlative Ackroyd.

There are several very attractive points to the book. First, the case takes Poirot and Hastings out of their usual socio-economic comfort zone: three of the four murders are in lower middle class or working class settings, and Christie largely reverses her usual view of the universe where poor people are normally invisible. Second, the fact that the villain sets the story up as a battle of wits with Poirot from the start of the book gives it a completely different dynamic: it's not a case of Poirot inserting himself into someone else's tragedy, instead he is dragged into a nefarious plot from the very beginning, and it is a little gratifying to see him lose the initiative (though of course we cheer when he regains it). And finally, the speculation on the mind-set of the serial killer, in a novel written and set in the mid 1930s, reminds us that this is a topic of horrified fascination that has been around for a long time. Oh yes, and the plot is well constructed and the solution reasonably fair.

This was one of the ones I had read as a teenager and had fond memories of; and I was not disappointed to return to it.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2013 08:37 am (UTC)
I was always vaguely disappointed with this one for a rather odd reason. The 'A' of the title stands for Andover, and as I have lived near the town for most of my life - and was actually living there when I read the book - I was naturally excited to finally find a book that featured it.

Alas, it's obvious that Christie had never actually visited the place; the Andover described bears very little resemblance to the real town. Maybe one day I'll reread it to remind myself of the actual plot!
Aug. 24th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
As a contrast, Churston is described very well, which given she lived there for a long time isn't that surprising, and it was one of the reasons I was given it to read by an aunt that thought I needed more books in my life. A lot of her stuff is based either directly in the area I grew up or fictionalised versions, when she knows the area her descriptions are very good, but when she doesn't, not so much...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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