There are no insights that have not already been touched upon online and the plot is so well-known, there’s no need for a build-up here or for hiding plot details. So what is left? Why add this book review?
I wondered that myself. What could I possibly add or say about a book from 1926 that is still being published, and has been turned into plays, series for TV, radio show, and even a graphic novel.
The only thing that I can add is how I got to know the book and why I reread it.
In high school, I followed an advanced English literature class. As you may know, I am Dutch, so English is not my first language. The class covered English literature from the Old English period (700-1100) to the Twentieth Century. That means that we read literature from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle about King Alfred (871-901) to Kurt Vonnegut. For my Dutch readers, I am talking about VWO old style.
Agatha Christie was not part of the required reading list and in fact, her work was not discussed in the textbook that we used. However, it was discussed in class.
The introduction to Christie’s work came in the form of the most well-known play in the world, the Mouse Trap. And, her first mystery novel, the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, was read in class. Our teacher used the book to help us advance our pronunciation and to outline the writing technique. We discussed who could possibly have killed Roger, who was in it as well, who was a crook but not a killer, etc.
One of my favourite moments was Poirot’s head popping up over the garden fence. I had always imagined a chubby man and my jaw dropped when I saw Peter Ustinov for the very first time on the screen, in ‘Death on the Nile.’
Picking a murder mystery to read aloud in class ensured more class participation. Can you imagine a class filled with teens who took turns reading aloud an English book to get their pronunciation corrected? You could not do that with Shakespeare but Edgar Allen Poe (required reading) and Agatha Christie, that would do it.
While reading Ackroyd, I remembered my classes and dug up the textbook that we used. Yup, I still have it. Moved it across the world. Browsing through the textbook, I was reminded how much I enjoyed reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I think I should re-read his books next.
Readers already know that I got the book Poirot and reading that snowballed into a trip down memory lane. The first Poirot book that I read outside of class was ‘And then there were none.’ Maybe reread that one too?
So, what kind of a book review is this? A tribute to Christie, a great author whose work is not just to be read or watched in a play. Her work is timeless and has encouraged many to follow into her footsteps to become a writer or, it helped them pronounce the English language better.
In short, this is a famous book that aside from being cleverly written with engaging characters, has the power to last. By the time we read it in class, the book was already roughly 50 years old. I picked it up again in 2022 and was drawn into Christie’s world again right from the start.
Christie wrote not just a book that became famous. She wrote a book that has the power to remain famous forever.
Highly recommended reading. My other book reviews are here.