I went into this book with a bit of an attitude. Roger Ackroyd is the only Agatha Christie book featured on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and I was skeptical about the List’s claim that this was the only Christie book worth reading. But, as much as it pains me to say this, I think the List is right on this one. At least a little – I’m definitely not suggesting that you should read this book and then never pick up a Christie novel ever again, but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to spend a month on a desert island and can only bring one book, and the only books you’ve been offered are from the Agatha Christie canon, you should pick this one.
The ending (which I will not discuss in explicit detail for fear of spoilers) is what makes this a 5-star book. Let me assure you: you will not guess who the murderer is. Never ever ever. When the murderer is revealed, you will not believe it. When the murderer goes on to explain his/her actions, you will continue to not believe it. Only by rereading certain important passages will you start to realize that the answer was in front of you all the time, and you couldn’t see it. It’s a testament to Christie’s skill as a writer that this is accomplished.
And, having now read a Miss Marple mystery, I’m going to choose a side: I’m officially Team Hercule. He is silly and self-centered and ridiculous and funny and all I want to do is pinch his cheeks and then go sit in a cafe with him and eat croissants while we read Us Weekly and snark about celebrities. My favorite part of the book is when Poirot makes his grand entrance into the story: the narrator, Dr. Sheppard, is in his garden when someone throws a vegetable marrow over the wall. A second later, the doctor’s new neighbor pokes his “egg-shaped head, partially covered with suspiciously black hair, two immense mustaches, and a pair of watchful eyes” over the garden wall and attempts to explain himself:
“I demand of you a thousand pardons, monsieur. I am without defense. For some months now I cultivate the marrows. This morning suddenly I enrage myself with the marrows. I send them to promenade themselves – alas! not only mentally but physically. I seize the biggest. I hurl him over the wall. Monsieur, I am ashamed. I prostrate myself.”
Verdict: five out of five stars