Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Hercule Poirot #13

The A.B.C. Murders

Rate this book
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? More importantly, why is this happening?

Often considered to be one of Agatha Christie's best.

Librarian's note: the first fifteen novels in the Hercule Poirot series are 1) The Mysterious Affair at Styles, 1920; 2) The Murder on the Links, 1923; 3) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 1926; 4) The Big Four, 1927; 5) The Mystery of the Blue Train, 1928; 6) Peril at End House, 1932; 7) Lord Edgware Dies, 1933; 8) Murder on the Orient Express, 1934; 9) Three Act Tragedy, 1935; 10) Death in the Clouds, 1935; 11) The A.B.C. Murders, 1936; 12) Murder in Mesopotamia, 1936; 13) Cards on the Table, 1936; 14) Dumb Witness, 1937; and 15) Death on the Nile, 1937. These are just the novels; Poirot also appears in this period in a play, Black Coffee, 1930, and two collections of short stories, Poirot Investigates, 1924, and Murder in the Mews, 1937. Each novel, play and short story has its own entry on Goodreads.

232 pages, Hardcover

First published January 6, 1936

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Agatha Christie

4,057 books58.4k followers
Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha's husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie's death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie's travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie's room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.

Wikipedia entry

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
47,009 (32%)
4 stars
62,247 (42%)
3 stars
31,944 (21%)
2 stars
4,211 (2%)
1 star
774 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,515 reviews
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
January 18, 2014
Agatha Christie is such a crafty devil that midway through a novel she might have you believing that YOU are the murderer!

Indeed, The ABC Murders uses slight-of-hand most deftly. Again, I was thrown off the scent of the real killer and was ready to blame others. I feel a bit foolish when she dangles bait in front of me, and although I guess it for what it is, I take it anyway. And yet, if ever it felt good to be played the fool, it's while reading a cracking good mystery.

Ah, but never fear, Hercule Poirot is here! Christie may make him out to be the retired old sleuth past his prime, but she's used that line on us before and we know the little man with the peculiar accent and fantastic mustaches won't let us down! In this story, he is put on his guard by the personal nature of the murderer's actions. He is not quite as flippant as he can be, in fact, he seems downright disconcerted at times. It makes for a nice change in the character.

After sampling a few shorter Poirot stories, it felt liberating to read something that stretched and breathed a bit more. While the shorts feel like wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, this makes you feel like you've been wined and dined. Christie even gets all psychological on this one! Not only in how she delves into the minds of the suspects, but the 1st person/3rd person narration switches made The ABC Murders seem that much more cerebral! Seriously, she may not go down as the most clever author of all time, but I like that she tried these sorts of techniques.

Rating: A 4 star book that gets an extra star for captivating me almost from start to finish!
Profile Image for Anne.
3,869 reviews69.2k followers
February 1, 2023
This is basically an episode of Criminal Minds.
But with a fussy old Belgin with weird mustaches running in tight shoes after a serial killer.
That's a mouthful.


Alexander Napoleon Bonaparte has headaches.
But that's beside the point, right?
Some sicko is sending Poirot letters, taunting Hercule about when and where his next victim will die. And at the site of each crime, an ABC Rail Guide is left on or near the dead body as a sort of signature.


This is one of my absolute favorite Poirot books.
It just has a bit more spice to it! Maybe because there's this race against time feeling that isn't really there in most of the books? Yes, there is usually a feeling of foreboding because there's always a risk that the murderer will strike again, but this is the only book where Poirot is given a hard time limit to find either the killer or the victim before the next crime is carried out.


ONE OF THE BEST. Full stop.
This is high on the list of Agatha Christie novels that I will recommend to anyone who is looking to dip their toes into the water of the Queen of Mystery.
So, yeah.
Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
October 3, 2021
The A.B.C. Murders (Hercule Poirot #13), Agatha Christie

The A.B.C. Murders is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie, featuring her characters Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp, as they contend with a series of killings by a mysterious murderer known only as "A.B.C.". The book was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 January 1936.

The form of the novel is unusual, combining first-person narrative and third-person narrative. This approach was famously pioneered by Charles Dickens in Bleak House, and was tried by Agatha Christie in The Man in the Brown Suit.

What is unusual in The A.B.C. Murders is that the third-person narrative is supposedly reconstructed by the first-person narrator of the story, Arthur Hastings. This approach shows Christie's commitment to experimenting with point of view, exemplified by The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2014میلادی

عنوان: قتلهای الفبایی؛ نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم: محمدعلی ایزدی؛ تهران، هرمس، کارآگاه، 1378؛ چاپ دوم 1390؛ چاپ سوم 1392، در 278ص؛ شابک 9789643635794؛ چاپ چهارم 1393؛ چاپ پنجم 1397؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

در این داستان: «هرکول پوآرو»، «آرتور هستینگز»، و سربازرس «جپ»، هستند؛ سبک نگارش داستان: اول شخص و در مواقعی سوم شخص است؛ این روش را نخستین بار، «چارلز دیکنز» نویسنده ی مشهور «انگلیسی»، در کتاب «خانه ی غمزده»، به کار گرفته بودند، و بانو «آگاتا کریستی» نیز، این روش را در «مردی با لباس قهوه‌ ای» آزمودند؛ «دیوید سوشی»، هنرپیشه ی معروف نقش «هرکول پوآرو»، «قتلهای الفبایی» را، یکی از بهترین رمانهای بانو «کریستی» میدانند

چکیده ی داستان: قاتلی سریالی، سه نفر را در سه شهر به قتل میرساند: «آلیس اشر»، در شهر «آندور، همپشایر»، «بتی برنارد» از شهر «بکسیل-ان-هیل»، و سومین نفر «سر کارمیل کلارک» از شهر «چرچستون»؛ این قاتل پیش از هر قتل، به «پوآرو» نامه می‌نویسد؛ و ...؛فردی هم که گمان می‌رود روانی است، دستگیر می‌شود، ولی «پوآرو» باور دارد، که وی قاتل نبوده، و در پایان قاتل را دستگیر می‌کند

نقل از متن: (یک - نامه: ماه ژوئن 1935م بود که من از مزرعه ای که در «آمریکای جنوبی» داشتم برای یک اقامت شش ماهه به کشور بازگشتم؛ من و همسرم در آنجا دوران سختی داشتیم و مانند بسیاری از مردم دنیا از رکود اقتصادی رنج میبردیم؛ در انگلستان من چندین کار مختلف داشتم که فکر میکردم حتما خودم باید بروم و به آنها رسیدگی کنم تا به نتیجه برسند؛ اما همسرم را نبردم تا به کار مزرعه برسد؛ لازم به گفتن نیست که یکی از کارهایی که بعد از رسیدن به انگلستان میخواستم انجام بدهم پیدا کردن دوست قدیمیم «هرکول پوآرو» بود؛ او را در یکی از جدیدترین آپارتمانهایی که خدمات ویژه به مستاجرانشان ارائه میکنند دیدم؛ گفتم: ــ تو این آپارتمان را مخصوصا به خاطر شکل ظاهر و تناسب ابعاد بی نظیری که دارد انتخاب کرده ای؛ او قبول کرد و گفت: ــ بله، این یکی از قشنگترین بناهای متقارن است؛ به نظر تو این طور نیست؟ گفتم: ــ به نظر من خیلی وسواس در آن به خرج داده شده؛ و با اشاره به یک طنز قدیمی گفتم: ــ یعنی در این مهمانخانه فوق العاده مدرن، میشود مرغها را هم گول زد تا تخم چهارگوش بگذارند؛ ــ آه، تو هنوز آن را یادت هست؟ نه، متاسفانه علم هنوز نتوانسته مرغها را مجبور کند خودشان را با سلیقه مردم امروزی تطبیق دهند؛ تخمهایی که میگذارند مثل گذشته در اندازه ها و رنگهای گوناگون است؛ با علاقه دوست قدیمی ام را برانداز کردم ــ خیلی خوب مانده بود؛ به نظرم نسبت به آخرین باری که او را دیده بودم، حتی یک روز هم پیرتر نشده بود؛ گفتم: ــ خیلی خوب مانده ای «پوآرو»؛ اصلاً پیر نشده ای؛ در حقیقت اگر با عقل جور درمیآمد، میگفتم موهای سفیدت از دفعه آخری که من دیدمت کمتر هم شده؛ «پوآرو» از ته دل خندید و گفت: ــ چرا با عقل جور درنمیآید؟ کاملاً همین طور است که میگویی؛ ــ یعنی میخواهی بگویی به جای اینکه موهای سیاهت سفید شوند، موهای سفیدت سیاه شده اند؟ ــ بله، دقیقا همین طور است؛ - اما این از نظر علمی غیرممکن است؟ ــ نه، به هیچ وجه؛ ــ چرا، خیلی عجیب است؛ بر خلاف قانون طبیعت است؛ ــ طبق معمول تو آدم ساده ای هستی «هستینگز»؛ به عمق مسائل فکر نمیکنی؛ گذشت زمان هم تو را عوض نکرده! یک چیزی را که میبینی، بدون اینکه فکر کنی فورا راجع به آن قضاوت میکنی؛ خودت هم متوجه نیستی! با تعجب به او خیره شدم؛ بدون اینکه حرفی بزند به اتاق خوابش رفت، یک بطری آورد و به من داد؛ من آن را گرفتم، اما متوجه نشدم منظورش چیست؛ روی آن نوشته بود: «رِویویت» ــ رنگ موها را به حالت طبیعی درمیآورد؛ «رویویت» در یک رنگ نیست، بلکه در رنگهای خاکستری، بلوطی، خرمایی، قهوه ای و مشکی عرضه میشود؛ با تعجب گفتم: ــ تو موهایت را رنگ کرده ای «پوآرو»! ــ انگار بالاخره متوجه شدی که موضوع چیست؛ ــ برای همین الآن موهایت از دفعه قبل که من آمده بودم پیشت مشکیتر است؟ ــ بله، درست است؛ من که تازه از تعجب بیرون آمده بودم گفتم: ــ فکر میکنم دفعه بعد که به «انگلستان» بیایم، سبیلهایت هم مصنوعی باشند؛ یا نکند الآن هم هستند؟! «پوآرو» از این حرف یکه خورد؛ او همیشه به سبیلهایش حساس بود، و فوق العاده به داشتنشان افتخار میکرد؛ این حرف من به او برخورد؛ ــ نه، نه، دوست عزیز، شکر خدا تا آن موقع خیلی مانده؛ سبیل مصنوعی! خیلی وحشتناک است! و محکم آنها را کشید که به من بفهماند اصل هستند؛ گفتم: ــ آره، هنوز شکیل هستند؛ من در تمام «لندن» کسی را ندیده ام که سبیلش به این خوبی باشد؛ در دل گفتم: «الکی خوش.» اما به خودش نگفتم چون به هیچ وجه دوست نداشتم او را برنجانم؛ در عوض سعی کردم ببینم اگر پیش بیاید، باز هم به کار سابقش علاقه نشان میدهد؛ به او گفتم: ــ میدانم که سالهاست بازنشسته شده ای...؛ ــ راستش دلم میخواهد بروم کدو بکارم، سبزی کاری کنم؛ اما تا به این فکرها میافتم، یک قتل پیش میآید و من هم همه این کارها را ول میکنم به امان خدا؛ و از آن وقت تا حالا...؛ البته میدانم الآن داری چه فکری میکنی...؛ من شده ام مثل سردسته خواننده های زن در اُپراها، که هر بار از مردم خداحافظی میکند و میرود، اما آن خداحافظیها دوباره و دوباره تکرار میشود؛ خنده ام گرفت؛ «پوآرو» ادامه داد: ــ در حقیقت، درست همین طور است که الآن گفتم؛ هر دفعه با خودم میگویم: این دیگر آخری اش است؛ اما نه، باز یک اتفاق میافتد! و من انگار نه انگار که بازنشسته شده ام؛ میدانی دوست عزیز، اگر سلولهای خاکستری مغز بیکار بمانند، زنگ میزنند، میپوسند؛ گفتم: ــ آهان، فهمیدم، کم و بیش آنها را به کار میاندازی؛ ــ بله، درست است؛ اما به میل خودم انتخاب میکنم؛ این روزها «هرکول پوآرو» فقط به دنبال جنایتهای پیچیده و جالب است؛ ــ خُب، تا حالا به چیزی که جالب و باب میلت باشد برخورده ای؟ ــ آره، چند وقت پیش در موقعیت خطرناکی بودم؛ ــ یعنی داشتی شکست میخوردی؟ «پوآرو» با حیرت به من نگاه کرد و گفت: ــ نه، نه؛ اما من، «هرکول پوآرو»، نزدیک بود از بین بروم؛ با شگفتی سوتی کشیدم و گفتم: ــ چه آدمکش اعجوبه ای بوده او! «پوآرو» گفت: ــ نه، بیشتر بی احتیاط بود تا اعجوبه؛ خُب حالا ولش کن؛ میدانی «هستینگز»، من از خیلی جهات تو را «پیام آور خوشبختی» برای خودم میدانم؛ گفتم: ــ راستی؟ از چه جهت؟ «پوآرو» به جای اینکه مستقیما به پرسش من جواب دهد، ادامه داد: ــ به محض اینکه فهمیدم تو داری میآیی اینجا، به خودم گفتم: «یک حادثه ای پیش میآید و ما مثل آن روزها دوباره با هم به شکار میرویم؛ ما دو نفر»؛ البته نباید یک چیز ساده و معمولی باشد؛ و همانطور که دستهایش را با حرارت تکان میداد و حرف میزد گفت: ــ آره، باید یک چیز حسابی...؛ جالب...؛ و خوب باشد...؛ او کلمه «خوب» را با آب و تاب تمام ادا کرد؛ گفتم: ــ باور کن «پوآرو» که تو یک طوری حرف میزنی که هرکس ببیند فکر میکند داری در هتل «ریتس» غذا سفارش میدهی؛ او آهی کشید و گفت: ــ منظورت این است که اختیار یک جنایت در دست ما نیست، که سفارش ارتکاب آن را بدهیم؟ بله، کاملاً درست است؛ اما راستش من به بخت و اقبال، به سرنوشت، اعتقاد دارم؛ این سرنوشت توست که کنار من باشی و مرا از ارتکاب یک گناه نابخشودنی باز داری؛ ــ تو به چی میگویی گناه نابخشودنی؟ ــ نادیده گرفتن بدیهیات؛ کمی به این حرف او فکر کردم اما چیزی دستگیرم نشد؛ و با ��نده پرسیدم: ــ خُب، هنوز این جنایت بزرگ و هولناک اتفاق نیفتاده؟ ــ نه، هنوز نه...؛ حداقل..؛ یعنی...؛ بعد، مکث کرد و در حالی که کمی گیج به نظر میرسید چینی به پیشانی انداخت، بی اختیار یکی دو تا از وسایلی را که من سهوا از جایشان تکان داده بودم مرتب کرد و آهسته گفت: ــ مطمئن نیستم؛ آهنگ صدایش آنقدر عجیب بود که من با تعجب به او نگاه کردم؛ چین روی پیشانیش هنوز سر جایش بود؛ ناگهان قیافه مصمّمی به خود گرفت، آهسته سرش را تکان داد و به طرف میزِ کنار پنجره رفت؛ لازم نیست بگویم که تمام کاغذها و پرونده های داخل کشوها همه مرتب و برچسب دار بودند؛ به طوری که فورا کاغذی را که میخواست پیدا کرد و برداشت؛ یک نامه باز شده بود؛ آن را میخواند و آهسته به سمت من میآمد؛ وقتی تمام شد، آن را به طرف من گرفت و گفت: ــ بگو ببینم دوست عزیز، از این چی میفهمی؟ با علاقه نامه را از او گرفتم؛ روی یک کاغذ یادداشتِ نسبتا ضخیم با ماشین تحریر نوشته بود

آقای «هرکول پوآرو»، تو به خیال خودت میتوانی مسائل اسرارآمیزی را که برای پلیس بیچاره و کودن «بریتانیا» فوق العاده پیچیده است حل کنی؛ اینطور نیست؟ خُب، آقای «هرکول پوآروی» باهوش، اجازه بده ببینیم شما چقدر باهوش هستی؛ شاید حلّ این یکی هم زیاد برایت مشکل نباشد؛ ببین بیست و یکم این ماه در «اندوور» چه اتفاقی میافتد؛ ارادتمند یا هرچیِ شما، «اِی.بی.سی»)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 10/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Adina.
798 reviews3,074 followers
October 19, 2017
Back when I had an Audible subscription I acquired 2 literature courses and one of them is called The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction. It is a history of the genre and its many ramifications. There are quite a few books mentioned and I am planning to read most of them as they appear in the lectures. Since Agatha Christie is one of the most important personalities in the history of Crime fiction (among Poe, Doyle, Hammett and Chandler) her works are extensively present in these lectures. The first novel I encountered by her is the ABC murders and this is why I decided to read it as my 2nd Christie.

I doubt anyone contests her talent to write amazing, clever, twisting crime novels. Time passed well over the pages of her works and I feel that they will continue to be enjoyed many years from now. She managed to surprise me this time as well and I enjoyed the reveal at the end although I had intuited who the murderer was.

This time, Hercule Poirot faces a direct challenge from a serial killer. He is sent letters from the perpetrator announcing in advance where the murders will take place. As the title suggest, the killer chooses his/her victims and crime location in alphabetic order.

I enjoyed reading this little book and my only regret was that I had no time to absorb it in one go and had to settle for a few pages/day.

My next Christie will probably be The murder of Roger Akcroyd.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,227 reviews1,029 followers
August 16, 2022
The ABC Murders is an ingenious novel from 1936, by Agatha Christie. The thirteenth book to feature Hercule Poirot, her retired Belgian detective, it is well up there with her best. We have the banter between Poirot and Captain Hastings, plus the introduction of a new policeman to be the stooge, who ultimately is to learn the genius of Poirot. Furthermore, Agatha Christie explores a type of theme which she had never yet attempted: the serial killer. (Never fear, the Dame is not one to shock, and it is dealt with in a tasteful way, in keeping with the cosy mystery whodunnits at which she excels.) Agatha Christie’s sense of humour is to the fore again, as are her quirky references to nursery rhymes:

“—And catch a fox
And put him in a box
And never let him go.”

and her love of lists and ordering. We have familiar settings and English locations, and best of all we have an unfathomable but ultimately satisfying plot.

It is June 1935, and once more Captain Hastings is in England for six months, his wife having remained in South America to look after their ranch. He seems to do this regularly with equanimity, even though this time he says they have been having a hard time of it with the ranch! Nevertheless we are pleased to see him present, as the novels featuring both he and Poirot, have an extra frisson, just as those with Inspector Japp in do. This, joyfully, has all three—as well as a brand new policeman, the arrogant young Inspector Crome, who has to be taught the lesson that we all know: that Poirot reigns supreme. As Captain Hastings explains:

“[Inspector] Crome was a very different type of officer from Japp. A much younger man, he was the silent, superior type. Well educated and well read, he was, for my taste, several shades too pleased with himself. He had lately gained kudos over a series of child murders, having patiently tracked down the criminal who was now in Broadmoor.
He was obviously a suitable person to undertake the present case, but I thought that he was just a little too aware of the fact himself. His manner to Poirot was patronising. He deferred to him as a younger man to an older one—in a rather self-conscious ‘public school’ way.”

“‘He’s a mountebank,’ said Inspector Crome. ‘Always posing. Takes in some people. It doesn’t take in me.’”

Ah, but we know very well that the good Inspector Crome will eventually be made to metaphorically eat his words.

Perhaps the best hook to this novel is its title. Just as her previous novel “Death in the Clouds” was based around the new form of air travel, this time we are at the beginning of train travel; when it was in its infancy. Sherlock Holmes had his indispensable “Bradshaw” guide, which enabled him and Doctor Watson to dash off to the other end of the country at a moment’s notice. The main competitor to this was “The ABC Railway Guide”, which made its first appearance in 1853, appealing to potential passengers with its advertisements for all sort of necessary items when travelling—including a revolver for safety! Oscar Wilde much admired the “The ABC Railway Guide”, and even Queen Mary insisted on having a copy in her library, in the 1920s.

“The ABC Railway Guide” features in this novel right from the beginning, as do our favourite detective duo. One of the first things Captain Hastings wants to do, on his return from South America in June 1935, is to visit his old friend, Hercule Poirot, at his new flat in London. The two immediately fall into their friendly badinage, this time about the fact that Poirot is using a hair preparation, “Revivit” (which he vehemently denies is a dye), and Hastings for his part, is getting a bit thin on top. Inspector Japp too, when he enters the scene, superciliously joins in the good joke at Poirot’s expense:

“Quite an advertisement for a hair tonic … face fungus sprouting finer than ever. Coming out into the limelight, too, in his old age. Mixed up in all the celebrated cases of the day. Train mysteries, air mysteries, high society deaths—oh he’s here, there and everywhere. Never been so celebrated as since he’s retired.”

and by this reference Agatha Christie neatly reminds her readers of several mysteries she has already published about Hercule Poirot. Yet however vain and pompous Poirot may seem to have become in the earlier novels, this case is about to deflate his ego considerably, as each detail confounds him more. Perhaps after all he is getting too big for his boots:

“Even the most sober of us is liable to have his head turned by success.”

Poirot shows his friend a mysterious letter he has received, signed “A.B.C.”. Hastings brushes this aside, thinking that it is the work of a crank, but Poirot is hesitant. He is more inclined to believe that a crime will be committed very soon, and that it will be a murder.

Sure enough, in chapter 3, a phone call reveals that Alice Ascher, an elderly woman has been killed in her newspaper and tobacco shop in Andover. An “ABC Railway Guide” had been left beside the victim. As if this crime was not in itself enough to make their blood run cold, the thought occurred of the horrific implications of such an alphabetic sequence. It seemed highly unlikely that “Ascher” and “Andover” were coincidental, and that this would be the only murder.

Captain Hastings, in common with his forerunner, Dr. Watson, always narrated the books in which he appeared. In the Foreword to this one, Captain Hastings had remarked that there would be parts of the book which would not be penned by himself. We therefore have two distinct voices, with an omniscient narrator for short parts of the novel. The first of these occurs between chapters one and three, . Clearly then this is going to be a book of a different nature from any heretofore.

The story proceeds at a good pace, and we follow the inner workings of Poirot’s mind. His fears that this might now be an isolated murder are confirmed when .

Hercule Poirot is increasingly worried, since with each note the jeering taunts of the murderer are more pronounced. Why has he been targeted for this? What can he do to forestall the next one? Never before has he felt so challenged—quite literally—or helpless. He determines to use his most powerful weapon, his “little grey cells” to find the answer, for:

“If the little grey cells are not exercised, they grow the rust.”

As time goes on, Poirot becomes more preoccupied, trying to determine what sort of person could commit these crimes, which apparently have nothing in common:

“When I know what the murderer is like, I shall be able to find out who he is.”

“A madman in particular has always a very strong reason for the crimes he commits.”

He and Hastings, not to mention Inspector Crome, all have very different attitudes towards solving the crime. Exasperated beyond measure, Poirot bursts out:

“Always—always you want me to run about like the dog … my force is in my brain not in my feet. All the time whilst I seem to you idle I am reflecting.”

Poirot’s approach is more in line with that of Dr. Thompson, an “alienist”. (This is an archaic term for what we now call a forensic psychologist.) Dr. Thompson has been assigned to Japp’s police team, to attempt to profile the killer.

It is noticeable in Agatha Christie’s novels—indeed she often draws pointed attention to this fact herself—that whilst Poirot and Hastings are her versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters, Holmes and Watson, Poirots’s methods are completely different. Sherlock Holmes gives his attention to the study of every minute detail—even to the different types of ash left by particular cigars. Poirot, on the other hand is frankly dismissive of such a way of proceeding. He is rather ahead of his time, in fact, in concentrating on the psychological angle.

Those around the detectives become frustrated with the apparent lack of progress, and one of them suggests forming an unofficial “Legion” of relatives of the deceased to uncover new information. The members are Franklin Clarke, Sir Carmichael Clarke’s younger brother; Mary Drower, Alice Ascher’s niece; Donald Fraser, Betty Barnard’s fiancé; Megan Barnard, Betty’s older sister; and Thora Grey, Sir Carmichael Clarke’s young assistant.

Immediately the story gains another level of interest. We see the various ideas these people from disparate backgrounds have, and how they contrast with Inspector Crome, the police at each crime scene, Captain Hastings, and last but not least, that of Hercule Poirot himself, determined to analyse the letters, and uncover more about the murderer’s psychology:

“there isn’t such a thing as a murderer who commits crimes at random. Either he removes people who stand (however insignificantly) in his path, or else he kills by conviction.”

“Speech, so a wise old Frenchman said to me once, is an invention of man’s to prevent him from thinking. It is also an infallible means of discovering that which he wishes to hide. A human being, Hastings, cannot resist the opportunity to reveal himself and express his personality which conversation gives him. Every time he will give himself away.”

Eventually the clue which everyone has been hoping for turns up. Each of the crimes does have something in common.

There are exciting scenes at the hugely popular St. Leger horse race, at Doncaster Racecourse, and also at a local cinema. We have secrets kept by the legion of friends and relatives. Various love interests are suggested, one of two of which are true. Evidence, motives and alibis are not always as they seem.

There are various reasons for enjoying a crime novel. Some readers like authenticity, and there has been a surge in “true crime” books since Agatha Christie’s time. Then there are those concerning the psychological reasons and reactions caused by crimes impinging upon the routine of ordinary life. These novels, which often start with the identity of the murderer already known to the reader, are also hugely popular nowadays.

Most whodunnits from this Golden Age of crime are directed to another type of reader: one who is drawn to the detective novel by the interest in watching and hopefully anticipating the logical development of a given theme. Yet a fourth type is what we now call a “police procedural”, following the swift succession of events in an exciting story. The genius of Agatha Christie is that with The A.B.C. Murders she has combined at least two of these types of novel, if not three, without losing our interest for one moment. An addendum, at the bottom of the flyleaf on the first edition of this book, by the ”Collins Crime Club”, says:

“In recommending this story to your friends, please do not hint at anything that might spoil their pleasure in reading it.”

I shall take this advice under consideration, and say no more even under spoilers. One critic at the time said:

“It’s Agatha Christie at her best.”

I have to say I agree with them. I am reading all the novels featuring Hercule Poirot in order, and even though there have been a couple of excellent ones so far, I do think this one is the best yet!

Interestingly the novel was filmed by MGM, and called “The Alphabet Murders” thirty years after it was written. It was a turkey, played for laughs, with a cast including Tony Randall as Poirot and Robert Morley as Hastings. This was an unwise move, since the author was still alive, and she hated every second of it. A much better, and far more faithful dramatisation of The A.B.C. Murders was made in 1992 for ITV, as part of David Suchet’s extraordinary lifetime achievement: his portrayal of Hercule Poirot in the entire canon by Agatha Christie. I can heartily recommend this, as I do the novel itself. Humour is there in abundance, but it is much more subtle:

“‘That fingerprint clinched things, Poirot,’ I said thoughtfully. ‘He went all to pieces when you mentioned that.’
‘Yes, they are useful—fingerprints.’ He added thoughtfully: ‘I put that in to please you, my friend.’
‘But, Poirot,’ I cried, ‘wasn’t it true?’
‘Not in the least, mon ami,’ said Hercule Poirot.”

shook him warmly by the hand. ‘You’re a very great man, M. Poirot.’ Poirot, as usual, did not disdain the compliment. He did not even succeed in looking modest.”

The pacing is superb; the plot confounds. It is a triumph of ingenuity:

“Do you not see Hastings that the man is a mass of contradictions? Stupid and cunning, ruthless and magnanimous - and there must be some dominating factor that reconciles his two natures.”
Profile Image for Valerie.
2,017 reviews162 followers
May 28, 2010
I try to get my math students to read mysteries, because the logical skills of finding a pattern and using inductive and deductive reasoning are often skillfully laid out. If you've read this book, you know why its one that I use to illustrate that point in my class. Sadly, the point is underappreciated by my high school students.
Profile Image for Brina.
887 reviews4 followers
February 23, 2020
I have mentioned many times in my goodreads reviews that I enjoy reading mysteries as palette cleansers in between tougher books. In the midst of African American history month, I absolutely needed to settle down with a quick whodunit. I noticed that one of my goodreads groups was reading an Agatha Christie case I hadn’t read yet, so I decided to join them in their read of the ABC Murders. As usual, Hercule Poirot saves the day.

The ABC Murders is Christie’s thirteenth case featuring Poirot. She had already written Murder on the Orient Express, which cemented her position as one of the top mystery writers in the world. By this point in her career, Christie had found a formula that worked for Poirot. He was retired and enjoying life either traveling or at an estate in London. In this installment, Colonel Hastings happens to be visiting Poirot, and, as usual, murder happens to find him. This time the murder is in the form of a letter addressed to him, and, unlike in previous cases, the murderer is notifying Poirot of when the crime will taken place and daring the Belgian sleuth to stop him. He signs his letters Mr ABC.

With the bumbling assistance of Hastings and Inspectors Japp and Crome of Scotland Yard, Poirot is on the case immediately. So much for a happy retirement. The first murder is Mrs Alice Ascher of Andover. Next to her body is an ABC Railways guide and Poirot correctly surmises that the train schedule is a link to the murders that ABC is plotting. He then receives a second letter, announcing a murder in Bexhill. Sure enough, the victim is one Betty Barnard with an ABC schedule next to her body. The public is horrified with reporters urging people whose names start with C to be on high alert. Like clock work, the next victim is one Carmichael Clarke of Churston. Could Mr ABC get through the entire alphabet before Poirot catches him? One would think not.

Of course, Poirot uses his gray cells to outsmart the other police on the case. As usual, Christie withholds one key clue until the end of the book to keep readers on their toes. This frustrates some would be sleuths at home who would like to be able to solve the case before the Belgian mustachioed detective, but the leaving out a piece of information is what has me reading until the end. Christie has readers think that one Alexander Bonaparte Cust, Mr ABC, is a serial killer, but it isn’t so simple, and Poirot knows it. He also knows that the killer’s luck will change, like a roulette table changes from black to red. He knows that the killer could not possibly get through an entire alphabet of victims.

Agatha Christie held my attention for the half day it took me to get through this case. With this formula I knew just what to expect as she develops a plot around Hercule Poirot. Dame Christie always makes for fun reading and that is what makes her the queen of crime. My palette is now cleansed and I can use my little grey cells to engage in tougher reads until the next time that I read a case featuring my favorite Belgian sleuth.

4 stars
Profile Image for Adrian.
552 reviews196 followers
February 27, 2019
My musings to follow later, but a great detective story.

At Christmas 2018 I watched the latest televised version of this wonderful story starring John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot. Now in my opinion if I hadn't known it was meant to be Poirot I wouldn't have guessed. It was a good and enjoyable tv detective story but in my view it was way too dark and brooding to be a Poirot. And having just finished this book for the first time, I think that my view of the TV show has been reinforced, it was enjoyable, but it was far too dark to be a Poirot and there were far too many changes versus the book for it to be a Poirot. And lets be honest John Malkovich as Hercules Poirot, NO .

Ok and on to the book, This was a really enjoyable Poirot mystery, with him involved right from the start as the recipient of a poison letter foretelling murder. He and Hastings (back home briefly from his ranch) are intrinsic to the investigation. Japp appears occasionally but the police presence is many filled through the book by a young "superior" Police Inspector from Scotland Yard.
As anyone who knows the story will know, it dashes around England, with Poirot doing the minimum of travelling but mostly using his little grey cells in London.
It is wonderfully crafted with just the right amount of mystery and intrigue, in short it a fabulous example of a murder mystery, and a solid 4.5 stars rounded down to 4. (well at the moment it is, I might round it up if I feel so moved.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
510 reviews390 followers
July 28, 2022
In The ABC Murders, Poirot is challenged by a serial killer, or it seems to be the case. The murderer is so bold that he even informs Poirot in advance where the murder is to take place. Moreover, the murderer chooses the place and the victim in alphabetical order.

Written as a first person and third person narrative by Arthur Hastings, the story marks a different writing approach by Agatha Christie. From the outset, the story presents us with a possible killer. There is no evidence but only suggestive inferences to intrigue the reader. The person is hidden from Poirot and the Police, and the Police and Poirot carry their own separate investigations on the murders that so painstakingly have taken place. The baffled police conclude that they are the action of a homicidal lunatic. But Poirot has reservations. In the absence of a clear motive, he feels that the Police are in error. And of course, he is right as always!

The ABC murders has a complex plot. More than in any other Poirot reads, here we see the great detective a little rattled. He cannot comprehend the motive behind the unnatural killings. Poirot's temperament due to this incomprehension, Hastings constant nagging for action and reproaches for inaction produces humourous dialogues that entertain the reader pretty much. And Poirot's brilliance is once again displayed when he cleverly summarizes the evidence which coupled with his power of deduction enlightens all as to the real murderer and the motive behind the murders.

There is no doubt that the plot is ingenious. There is also no doubt as to my enjoyment of the story. But somehow I felt a little cheated with the final revelation. It was an unexpected surprise. Throughout the read, I cannot recall any possible clue that pointed toward the real murderer. It seemed that Agatha Christie has deliberately kept some vital clues away from the readers. And I felt that that was not fair play. My detective mind was sadly plagued.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,203 reviews130 followers
June 9, 2019
I love that this Poirot mystery wasn’t the usual drawing room style (until the end of course) plot line usually delivered by my favorite mustachioed Belgian detective. And an extra star for a really original and nearly modern plot line.
Profile Image for Carol Vickers.
149 reviews63 followers
January 13, 2023
What an outstanding and riveting mystery novel! This is my favorite read from the Poirot series. The “ABC Murders” is a story about a serial killer who is killing his victims alphabetically and he sends a letter to Poirot of the future murder. When Poirot reveals the murderer I am left feeling amazed at the author’s brilliance to deliver such a creative plot. Agatha Christie truly is the queen of mystery!! I LOVED it!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Profile Image for Ginger.
739 reviews342 followers
December 5, 2017
The book starts off with a methodical, serial killer sending Hercule Poirot a letter of a future murder! Did a person just die and how do they find the victim?

Enter the mind of the great Agatha Christie.

I loved that Agatha Christie went in a completely new direction with this plot. She usually does a singular murder, not a manhunt on stopping a serial killer.

The last part of the book made this a 4-star book for me!
It was lagging in the middle for me. I didn’t think the serial killer was who we were expecting it to be and I’m glad I stuck it out. The mystery of the killer was not so obvious. I had a feeling that AC would try to fool me because of the past books that I've read! She's clever like that.

I had my suspicions of who it was at about 85% in the book and when Poirot started stating all the facts at the end, I did a fist bump! I love how AC can take a murder mystery and put all the facts and assumptions together seamlessly.

Her brain is brilliant and she's the GOAT of mysteries. Hahaha!
Profile Image for Vikas Singh.
Author 4 books277 followers
August 5, 2019
One of the most engrossing Poirot stories. It has a great beginning and as the plot progresses you stay glued trying to make a sense of it all. Tantalizingly, clues are scattered loosely to off track you. And then finally with a flourish Poirot reveals the murderer you are left gaping at the cleverness of author in steering such a plot. I loved Poirot's quote at the end ' … but for myself I consider your crime not an English crime at all- not above board- not sporting'
Profile Image for Cartas de un Lector.
161 reviews3,106 followers
July 11, 2022
Otro para mis favoritos de la autora.

Aunque este caso es todavía más sorprendente (o al menos cada que leo a Agatha me pasa eso jajaja).
El primer asesino en serie de Hércules Poirot, que como siempre con su humor y forma de resolver los casos, me mantiene entretenido todo el tiempo.

De verdad que me encanta como escribe Christie, y es que uno termina sorprendido por el ingenio y destreza que tenía. Aunque si se nota que recicla algunos detalles de otras novelas, cada uno aporta algo en los distintos casos.

Ahora si es definitivo, Agatha Christie es mi autora favorita ❤️
Profile Image for Gabriel.
447 reviews589 followers
October 2, 2021
Me lo he pasado súper bien con este libro que imposible no recomendarlo.

En realidad 3.5

Sí, sé qué tiene sus fallas. Sé que como lector constante de Poirot y sus casos Agatha sigue reciclando cosas del pasado en torno a la identidad del asesino/a, las pistas falsas, las trampas y el guardarse la información para el final es algo típico de ella; sin embargo, no voy a desmeritar lo bien que me la pasé porque representó salirse un poco de esa zona de confort.

Lo primero que me fascinó fue volver a ver al capitán Hastings, que puede ser tonto y todo lo que quieras pero es el que mejor funciona con Hércules Poirot. Me encanta el dúo que hacen y quizás mi puntuación se deba a eso en mayor medida, porque la verdad que extrañaba a esta pareja y fue mucho lo que me alegró encontrarlos nuevamente juntos en un caso bastante particular.

Lo segundo es el cómo está contada la historia y es que hizo que me sintiera en un ambiente agradable y súper entretenido todo el rato. Las bromas, la ironía, el humor de Poirot y los pensamientos y las respuestas de Hastings fueron geniales. Sentí al libro bastante natural, amistoso y nada pesado, muy diferente a las anteriores entregas que suelen ser más serias por decirlo así (aunque esto tampoco es malo).

Y lo tercero es que este caso se aleja de todo lo que la reina del crimen ha hecho anteriormente. No estamos ante un caso tradicional; el de uno cerrado. Si antes lo importante era la historia de la víctima, quiénes se beneficiaban con su muerte y qué oportunidad habían tenido de matarle los que le rodeaban; aquí es diferente, porque el crimen es desde fuera; hay que conectar distintos sucesos donde un asesino en serie parece matar por el orden del abecedario. Pero al final nada es lo que parece y hay algo oculto detrás.Por cierto, también me gustó que Poirot parece no querer centrarse en los detalles sino meterse en la mente del asesino. Constantemente busca definir la psicología del criminal desde distintos lentes, y no solamente él sino otros personajes.

Es más que seguro que para quiénes ya han leído bastante de Christie no le sea algo tan innovador, pero los que no han experimentado mucho con ella es una lectura refrescante garantizada y sorprendente en algún punto.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,634 reviews5,007 followers
June 1, 2022
Choose Your Own Adventure!

You are the A.B.C. Killer and indeed life is an adventure! So many paths to choose from, so many potential lives to snuff out. As the song goes, A-B-C is as easy as 1-2-3! And 1-2-3 murders you shall commit, and maybe more... surely your hilarious nemesis, the very droll and oh too clever by half Hercule Poirot, shall create no barriers. How could he, when he has been drawn into this amusing murder plot by your own devious manipulations? Ah, these foreigners, so easy to fool. You shall lead him on, that overstuffed Continental and his over-waxed moustache, his over-dyed hair, you shall send him little notes to confuse and boggle his dear aged mind, you shall even pretend to be one of his allies. All in a day's work! Ob‐La‐Di, Ob‐La‐Da, Life Goes On, as another song goes. But one life shall not go on, as you work your way through the devil's alphabet. And who should your next victim be? So many to choose from...

If you decide to take out the very worst sort of human, and skip to the letter L for Landlord, choose

If you decide that it is time to consult your special list of Who's Naughty & Who's Nice, choose
Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,306 followers
March 11, 2021
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“Our weapon is our knowledge. But remember, it may be a knowledge we may not know that we possess.”

Agatha Christie books are comfort reads for me at this point. Whenever I want to read something not fantasy or contemporary I pick up one of Christie’s novels and I don’t have to overthink my choices because there are high chances I won’t be disappointed. I have read more than 10 novels by her so far (Which is a drop in a sea of her novels) and I almost gave them all 4 or 5 stars.

The A.B.C. murders features my favorite detective Poirot. The story is about a serial killer who is killing his victims alphabetically; A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. The murderer leaves a signature as ABC and does the biggest mistake which is challenging Poirot to solve it. I don’t know where Agatha got her ideas from but I just am impressed by the way her brain worked.

Agatha can introduce a set of characters in each and every one of her novels and make you feel you know them well, even to their psychology and she does this very fast. Another thing is the consistency she has writing the main characters. Poirot is always the same in all her novels and I think she gave him a very unique very intriguing personality from the way he talks to the way he moves and think. Let’s not forget the fact that he speaks French too!

“Words, madmoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas.”

Agatha’s writing is also very accessible and I am always fascinated by the things I discover in her books. The book was published in 1936 yet it feels so modern. There are things such as the phone, the train and fingerprints that I thought are way more advanced than that year so reading about these things always give me insight of how things were not as primal as I thought they are.

Summary: I am a huge fan of the world’s most sold author and I think she deserves her title as the queen of mystery very much. As all her other books, the story is relatively short, fast paced, very intriguing and fun to read. Poirot is a character that you can’t forget and when he unravels the story I always get a euphoria when everything fall into place. The ending and conclusion that Poirot drew was a bit far fetched in my opinion but I still liked it. On to my next novel by the queen!

“Even the most sober of us is liable to have his head turned by success.”

Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,862 reviews1,897 followers
February 8, 2019
My review of the actual story is over here: Murder-Go-Round: Thirteen at Dinner, The A.B.C. Murders, Funerals are Fatal


2019 UPDATE I watched the Amazon Prime 3-part adaptation. It wasn't at all bad. I still think of Suchet as Poirot, but wasn't distracted by Malkovich in the role as I worried I might be. His Poirot is very different from the canonical one. Not bad, please understand, just different; his moustaches are infinitely preferable to the pogonotical heresy sported by Branagh in the recent feature film of Murder on the Orient Express.

There is a new, and divisive, backstory to the character; Malkovich's Belgian accent is superior to almost all the preceding efforts; the production was possessed of some annoying (to me) anachronisms (eg, a Woody Herman tune from 1939 being used in a 1933 setting, a china pattern I know from my years selling the stuff was introduced in 1960) but overall was beautifully conceived to convey the despair of the time.

I was inspired by the series to zip through the book again, and found it to be one of the top quality Christie efforts. Hastings, our narrator, has just returned from South America; he delivers us the the story with all the verve of Boswell reporting on Johnson's aperçus. Hastings is also, in the way of informing the reader, attempting to put himself in the head of the killer. It's not the ordinary run of the mill technique used in the Poirot books and I, for one, am pleased that's the case. It's not unsuccessful, exactly, to tell the story this way. It's obtrusive, and calls attention to the story as being told. So there one is, listening to one's rather dull cousin talking about how clever someone else is. It's not the smoothest reading experience, but it's quite effective as used in this particular story.

I was again struck by the great usefulness of Hastings as a narrator, and am sad to report that he is absent from this filmed version; Inspector Japp's fate, dealt with here in a cursory way, is at variance from the book; Cust's issues and their resolution are very much changed for no particular reason that I can see; and Rupert Grint's Inspector Crome is a nasty little man, eaten alive by jealousy and petty grievance. It was actually a perfect foil for Malkovich's performance.

So I'll eat my 2018 words and say this *isn't* an unnecessary and unwanted remake of the Suchet-era version (which, if I'm honest, isn't all that). It's a different, darker, and curiously unpleasant take on a top-flight Christie novel.

**2018 UPDATE**
There's yet another unnecessary, unwanted remake of this book into a 3-part miniseries being made; John Malkovich will appear as Poirot, which is as ludicrous as that Brannagh dude and his mustachios appearing in the unnecessary, unwanted remake of Murder on the Orient Express that carbuncled itself onto screens last year.

Rupert Grint, of Harry Potter fame, will also appear. Amazon Prime will stream in the US, though I'm not sure about international markets. End of this year.

Why they can't leave it with David Suchet, who filmed all the Poirot stories in 25 years as the little Belgian, I cannot fathom. He **was** Poirot. *annoyed sigh*
Profile Image for Shobhit Sharad.
102 reviews52 followers
August 27, 2016
Agatha Christie is a WITCH! I don't know how but she manages to confound me EVERY TIME I read one of her books. Specially, with this one. You're going with the story, reading with a flow, building up to the climax, and then suddenly whatever you were thinking is snatched away from you, and you begin to look at the things in a way that you never thought of until now.

And to do her justice, not only was this story (and any of her others) thrilling, but it had an element of reality better than most of her counterparts (no comparisons). And here's an example, in the words of Poirot-

"And it is very true—when a young girl is dead, that is the kind of thing that is said. She was bright. She was happy. She was sweet-tempered. She had not a care in the world. She had no undesirable acquaintances. There is a great charity always to the dead. Do you know what I should like this minute? I should like to find someone who knew Elizabeth Barnard and who does not know she is dead! Then, perhaps, I should hear what is useful to me—the truth.”

(Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers.)
At one point of time in the book, I felt I was going to be disappointed, because up to the last the crimes were attributed to mental illness, and what fun is in that? I had my doubts deep within, but they were too deep to have any effect on what I was reading.

But when we came to the typical Christie climax scene, a room full of people, and Poirot giving his dramatic explanation, that is when the cloud from in front of my eyes cleared and I praised one of the best writers of detective stories ever!
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
September 9, 2020
“Who are you? You don't belong to the police?"

“I am better than the police,” said Poirot. He said it without conscious arrogance. It was, to him, a simple statement of fact.

Poirot #13 is one I had read many years ago, but am re-reading anyway, since I am now reading them all in order.

In this one Christie creates an idea followed by hundreds of others in different ways: Having a killer use the alphabet to associate with his killings--Mrs. Ascher in Andover, then Betty Barnhard in Bexhill, and so on. There’s also an ABC travel guide left by each victim. There’s also a character suspected of murder with ABC as his initials. . . It’s a serial killer, so we have to reference Jack the Ripper, of course. This killer writes intriguing and clever notes to Poirot taunting him, telling him he will kill someone in three days. So it's the first big "public" murder story for Poirot, where newspapers follow the events. And it's pretty good, overall, maybe 3.5 or so, but:

A narrative problem/interesting dilemma Christie creates for herself: Captain Hastings, Poirot’s sidekick, is unimaginative, clueless, AND he is also typically the narrator of any story he appears in, so he is either frustratingly or comically unreliable. This is a narrative strategy Christie uses in sort of comic fashion for delaying any idea of our knowing what is going on so we will keep reading until the last pages when she/Poirot reveals whodunnit.

In this volume Christie adds another challenge. Not only is Hastings a dope as Watson-ish sidekick to Poirot, Christie also has him try “fiction,” to try and tell the story of the crime, short chapters told that would seem to indicate the person he—Hastings--believes from the beginning dunnit. The problem as Hastings relates it is to use this device to try and get into the mind of various characters and see things from a perspective he couldn’t know, but could only guess at. Okay. . . So there’s this meta-fiction element, but it’s not always so well handled, and in the end, all these “insights,” it’s just another smokescreen for all he does not know. And how can a dope like Hastings be a convincingly good writer? So in general this compounds the Hastings problem, IF you are trying to take the murders seriously, but if you are just looking for silly comedy, well, there you are, good job. Lucky these interludes are just a mild distraction to Poirot's handling of the case.

So, complaints aside, I still think this is quite well done over all. And here's why: For instance, as there is some interesting reflection about the nature of mysteries themselves. And okay, I'll say something nice about Hastiings on this subject. At one point Poirot and Hastings imagine themselves as possible writers of a mystery, and Hastings says “I admit," I said, "that a second murder in a book often cheers things up.” And then we actually hear of the second murder, of course. Okay Ill admit that kind of thing is cute, smile-worthy, and happens a few times here.So there are aspects of this meta-fictional approach that work for me.

There is more than the usual amount in this book of reflection about criminal psychology, and it's interesting as Poirot has to use this to figure out the killer through his letters. I was curious if this xriminal psych angle was in vogue in 1936, or not. But as with today, many in the book suspect the serial killer is “mad,” by which I mean insane. Are people who kill multiple people crazy? In some sense, sure . . . unless they try to get off by using the insanity defense, those scallywags! Then we know they are not mad because they are merely devious! But we are supposed to suspect crazy people throughout, because. . . well, they are obviously unstable people who kill, right?! Are unstable people capable of possessing any insights whatsoever? Are “normal”-seeming people ever killers? What is normal? Are we who are reading this book normal? Who defines normal and stable? Who knows the answer to these questions? Well, Poirot, of course.

So this is a good one, not a great one, flawed but still fun. And I was pleased with the suprising resolution engineered by Poirot. Part of my bump up from 3 to 4 stars finally is my just liking Poirot whenever he is center stage. And in some ways Christie just is getting better as she writes, so I kind of forgive her a bit for hanging on to Hastings as long as she does, though everything gets better when he is gone.
Profile Image for Luffy.
940 reviews702 followers
February 18, 2021
I don't think I am being unreasonable with my rating. The heart wants what it wants. I have rarely given 1 star to Poirot books, but this reread after an interval of 2 decades left me cold.

The translation was the best but it clashed with the plebian atmosphere of the English version. The whodunit was improbable, and I was left puzzled by the first overrated book I've read of Christie.

One unique thing in this novel was the decision of Hercule Poirot to laud Hastings with praise. Twice. Did I throw this book at the wall in despair? No, because I was reading an e-book.

There have been a fistful of idolaters that have bettered their master, Agatha Christie's efforts in this book. Female writers such as M.C. Beaton, Livia J. Washburn, Laura Levine, Carol Higgins Clark, Rhys Bowen, and Jessica Beck, who I think, is a guy.

I have always had the opinion that with her lesser books, Agatha Christie paints herself into a corner with a record low number of brushstrokes. Proof for the murderer's crimes is often obtained in so unsavvy a way that it ruins the entire book for me. Onwards and upwards will do the trick after this dreck.
Profile Image for Beata.
714 reviews1,088 followers
July 29, 2018
One of the best HP cases.
Profile Image for Janete on hiatus due health issues.
654 reviews262 followers
October 4, 2018
I have 2 "The A.B.C. Murders" books: one in English that I bought several months ago and tried to read, but it was difficult because my English knowledge isn't good and the language is from decades ago and another in my own language (Portuguese) that I bought 2 days ago. Today I read this book in my mother language in just one sitting. I loved it! I've already read this book 30 years ago, but I didn't remember the murderer! Now, I'll read this again because I lost some clues in the text.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,323 followers
November 11, 2016
“Our weapon is our knowledge. But remember, it may be a knowledge we may not know that we possess.”

----Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie, the Queen of Mystery, has spun and extremely intriguing crime fiction and the thirteenth tale from her Hercule Poirot series called, The A.B.C. Murders that revolves around the anonymous letters stating as well as challenging Poirot that a murder will take place in the alphabetical order in a random town, and that intrigues the clever Poirot to come out of his early retirement to catch the mad serial killer striking random people in the alphabetical manner.


There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught - until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

Poirot is tempted by the anonymous letter addressed to him stating about a murder that is going to take place is a particular town on a particular date and signed as ABC. And within no time, the letter's each word comes true as the murder of an old lady takes place on the letter's said date and place, and it seems the killer has left an ABC railway guide book beside the dead body. And pretty soon one after another murder takes place that Poirot could not stop those from happening. So four murders later, Poirot finally manages to lure the serial killer onto his trap. Although this time, Poirot uses his gray matters and logic more than the clues to come to a conclusion about this baffling serial killing case.

One of my absolute favorite Agatha Christie books that, no matter, how many times I read it, always leave me awestruck with the intensity of the thrill and with Poirot's unmatched wits that comes out strikingly only in few of the books from the Hercule Poirot series. Although the book opens bit slow, still somewhere in the middle of the story, the complexity of the plot will drown its readers and leave them anticipating till the very last page.

The writing style is eloquent and is laced with so many layers that makes this plot challenging and interesting that will keep the readers glued to the pages of this book. The narrative is equally engaging with that light French flair mixed heavily with the English undertone thereby making the story line real and enthralling for the readers. The pacing is quite fast as the author unravels her plot through so many twists and turns that will leave the readers guessing till the very end.

The mystery part is extremely well concocted by the author, in fact, I've never ever came across such a mystery book where the plot is so thick and keeps getting thicker until it deludes the readers into its unknown depth and finally in the climax, the plot gradually begins to unravel through the author's smart and clever perspective that is highly absorbing and justifiable. The mystery is one hell of a roller coaster ride filled with some highly anticipating scenes, adrenaline rushing moments and some challenging events.

The characters are, no doubt, very much well crafted through their flaws, psychological challenges, and their thorough mindset, so while reading, it will feel like taking a trip inside the head of the secondary characters apart from Poirot and his friend, Hastings. The author depicts her characters with a clear insight into the minds of those characters, thereby making her readers contemplate with the characters' demeanor easily. Poirot's charm, his French exclamations and his wit simply steals the show. Oui!

In a nutshell, this book is one of the few showstopper crime fiction books that is not only riveting but also enlightening enough for the readers to look beyond the characters demeanor and the fictional plot's development and right into the mind of such an excellent and flawless writer of all times.

Verdict: Poirot and Christie at their best!
Profile Image for flora .
220 reviews293 followers
July 15, 2018
..هذه الرواية مختلفة بكل تفاصيلها من طريقة القتل لصعوبة معرفة القاتل للنهاية الصادمة
وستنضم لتلك الجرائم التي لن انساها مهما مرت الأعوام ( جريمة في قطار الشرق
( ثم لم يبقى أحد ..مقتل روجر أكرويد
تدور الرواية حول القاتل "اي بي سي" والذي يختار ضحاياه تبعا لتسلسل أحرف الأبجدية
"وعلى غرار القاتل الشهير " جاك السفاح " الذي روع مدينة لندن ,يرسل "اي بي سي
قبل تنفيذ جريمته رسالة فيها مكان وتاريخ وقوع الجريمة للمحق الشهير بوارو
الرسائل المستفزة والمحيرة لبوارو تكون السبب بإيقاد خلاياه الرمادية أكثر وأكثر
وإن كان جاك السفاح بقي مجهولا حتى يومنا هذا ,فمع العبقري بوارو لا وجود لقاتل
يبقى طليقا دون أن ينال العقاب

June 5, 2021
«Φόνοι με αλβαβητική σειρά» ένα πειραματικό συγγραφικό σενάριο που πρωτοδημοσιεύθηκε το 1936 στην Αγγλία.
Η Άγκαθα πειραματίζεται εξόχως συναρπαστικά σε πολυπρισματικές οπτικές γωνίες σχετικά με το πετυχημένο έγκλημα και εισάγει την τριτοπρόσωπη αφήγηση μέσα στην πρωτοπρόσωπη του λοχαγού Χέιστινγκς.
Είναι ένα απο τα πρώτα μυθιστορήματα που ασχολούνται με την χαρακτηριστική μυθολογία του serial killer. Απο κει και έπειτα εντάσσεται για πάντα στην παγκόσμια ιστορία του κατά συρροή εγκλήματος.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς και σεμνούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Katerina.
386 reviews49 followers
April 13, 2021
The ABC Murders I read for the first time and it follows a different pattern than most of her Hercule Poirot mysteries but equally enjoyable and intriguing!
A thing the doesn't stop to annoy me though is that there isn't a translation for the french frases used by Poirot! Dear publishers I'm not obliged to know French and it's highly annoying to stop my reading to use google translate!
Profile Image for Ehsan'Shokraie'.
588 reviews161 followers
July 25, 2020
"چرا باید آگاتا کریستی بخوانیم؟"
ژانر ادبیات جنایی و کاراگاهی,در نگاه اول شاید که تریویا و سرگرمی بنظر برسد,اما شاهکار های این ژانر بسیار فراتر از سرگرمی اند,در ادبیات جنایی موضوع مورد مطالعه انسان است,روان و اعمال انسان ها..و جزییات ریز که مثل ارواح کوچکی حقیقت ماجرا را فریاد می زنند و البته انسانی تیز بین که صدای این فریاد را می شنود..ادبیات جنایی گوشه ای از زندگی را نشان می دهد,با بیشترین جزییات ممکن..رخداد هایی پوشیده و وحشتناک..که ذره ذره روشن می شوند..
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,515 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.