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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars


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This was my first Agatha Christie book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I found the mystery intriguing. I also smile at how how things have changed since the book was written e.g. 'An electric bell trilled sharply above the girl's head' (to you and me, that's a doorbell); when a man packs an overnight bag, he includes a 'spare collar'; and '...The evening post arrived about ten o'clock...'.

The plot is simple: someone arrogantly writes to Hercule Poirot telling him that he/she (no spoilers here!) will murder someone whose surname begins with the letter A in Andover on a certain date. The murderer signs the letter as "ABC".

After the murder, Poirot receives another letter: this time the victim will be someone whose surname begins with the letter B, living in Bexhill-on-Sea, and again ABC names the date.

It's risky business, giving prior notice of a murder - naming the location, date and even first letter of the victim's surname. It increases the chance of being caught. That's part of the tension in the book.

The quest is not just a whodunnit but also who will the next victim be and how far down the alphabet will it get. (And how would ABC ever handle Z?)

The plot is simple but the book isn't (when you read the book, you'll understand what I mean by that). Thoroughly recommended.
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on 27 June 2017
A review of the hardback book.
Clear print.
A very good mystery, cleverly thought out and keeps the reader guessing.
A very good twist at the end.
Features Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp.
A recommended read
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on 19 February 2011
This Poirot novel, narrated by Captain Hastings, differs somewhat from the norm. The killer has written to Poirot to announce his act in advance, and so the famous detective joins the hunt.

This is an interesting book, as Hastings chooses to narrate some of the action in the third person - something he's not done before - which I initially found quite an odd move on Christie's part, as it distracted from the flow, and by telling the reader about the murderer removed us from the mystery of who done.

This has to be one of the best Poirot books in the set. The action moves at a good pace and there is a wide range of characters who avoid the usual stereotypes. Christie even drops in a few in jokes about detective fiction. The plot is surprisingly complex and lulls the reader into a false sense of security - and though my thinking towards the end was close to the concussion, I failed to work things out before the big reveal.

A good entry in the series, and something nice to quickly read and get me back into a reading mood after some disappointments.
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on 21 February 2001
Fans of Christie have marvelled at the 'quaint english country village with a dark secret' stories that we have known and loved for years. What a delightful departure in the ABC Murders. A brutal serial killer goades Hercule Poirot with clues as to the next victim, but he always arrives too late to save them. Why has the killer chosen to write to Hercule Poirot? What have the victims got in common? When will the killer strike again? A very clever and thoroughly enjoyable read.
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Hercule Poirot receives a taunting anonymous letter telling him there will be a murder in Andover on a certain date and signed 'A B C'. When a woman is found dead in her tobacconists/newsagents shop with a copy of the ABC train timetable open at the page for Andover it seems the letter wasn't a hoax.

Another murder is announced to Poirot - this time in Bexhill. Poirot is getting increasingly concerned and he and his friend Captain Hastings are soon hot on the trail of this mystery murderer. I found it a totally baffling mystery and I definitely didn't work out who the murderer was until Poirot himself explained in his inimitable fashion.

I really enjoyed reading this story and Agatha Christie could certainly teach many authors writing today a thing or two about plotting! The book is well written, the characters are varied and interesting. The book definitely justifies Christie's unofficial title - 'The Queen of Crime.'
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When Captain Hastings comes back on a trip to London from his new home in the Argentine, he hastens round to visit his old friend, Hercule Poirot. After they've done a bit of catching up, Poirot shows Hastings a bizarre letter he has received, warning that a crime will be committed on a certain date in Andover. When the day comes, so does news of a murder – Alice Ascher, the owner of a small newsagents, has been found dead, with a copy of the ABC railway guide lying beside her body. Poirot and Hastings head to Andover, and soon find that Mrs Ascher's drunken husband had every reason to want her dead, and would surely be arrested for the crime were it not for the strange coincidence of the letter. Some weeks pass before Poirot receives a second letter, this time warning of a murder to take place in Bexhill and, sure enough, a body turns up on the due date, along with another copy of the ABC. Poirot is already suspicious that this murderer is working to an alphabetical plan; a suspicion that is confirmed when the third letter speaks of Churston...

This is a rather typical Agatha Christie story – typically brilliant, that is. It has everything that makes her books such a joy: intriguing clues, plenty of suspects all with strong motives, lots of red herrings and misdirection, and, of course, the hugely entertaining interplay between Poirot and Hastings. It is narrated by Hastings, partly in the first person for the sections where he was present himself, and the rest in the third person, which he tells us he reconstructed from accounts from Poirot and other people.

There are possible suspects for each of the crimes – relatives, lovers and so on – but Poirot must find the link that connects them all. Chief Inspector Japp is always happy to have help from his little Belgian friend, and some of the suspects get together to offer their assistance too, so that they can have justice for the dead and also get out from under the cloud of suspicion that is hovering over them.

People sometimes sneer at Christie for working to a “formula” but I say, if a formula works so well, then why not? There are some things in this one that I feel are standard Christie, and they add as much to the enjoyment here as they do in so many of her other books. Her victims are carefully chosen so that we hope for justice for them, while not having to go through too much of the angst of grief. Poirot and Hastings spend much of their time interviewing people until Poirot's little grey cells give him the solution, which he then reveals at a get-together of all the suspects. The tone is lightened by the warmth of Hastings' narration – his occasional humour at Poirot's expense never hiding the warm regard he feels for his friend. And although Poirot is obviously more intelligent than Inspector Japp, the police are never shown as bumbling incompetents. There is a general respect in the books that makes Christie's world a pleasure to visit, and despite the similarities in tone and structure, the plots are different and original enough to make each book feel unique.

The plot of this one is beautifully complex and elegantly simple at the same time – a true Christie trait – so that when the solution finally comes, it seems both fiendishly clever and satisfyingly obvious. This is a major part of Christie's success, I think – her “twists” are an untangling of a complicated knot, rather than the sudden introduction of some new layer of hitherto unsuspected silliness, as with so much contemporary crime. Her denouements don't so much make one gasp with stunned disbelief as nod with satisfaction at the logical working out, and grin with pleasure at her cleverness in first hiding and then revealing her clues.

I listened to the Audible version of this, narrated by Hugh Fraser, whom Christie fans will recognise as the actor who played Hastings to David Suchet's Poirot in the long-running ITV series. Fraser does a marvellous job – he captures the tone of the books perfectly, bringing out the humour and the warmth of the friendship between Poirot and Hastings. He has a lovely speaking voice and, though he doesn't “act” all the parts, he differentiates enough between the characters so that it's easy to follow who's speaking. Obviously, when he's reading Hastings' dialogue, he sounds just like Hastings. But remarkably, when Poirot is speaking, he sounds just like Suchet's Poirot! I guess Fraser must have spent long enough listening to Suchet do it that he has mastered a faultless impersonation. It gives the narration a wonderful familiarity for fans of the TV adaptations.

So to conclude, one of Christie's finest, enhanced by a fabulous narration – I promptly shot off back to Audible and used up all my spare credits on getting as many of Fraser's Poirot readings as I could, and happily he has done loads of them. My highest recommendation for both book and reading – perfect entertainment!
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on 5 July 2017
I am partial to a bit of whodunit now and again, and whenever I fancy indulging myself the obvious choice is Agatha Christie, the queen of the murder mystery. I have seen many of her books televised over the years and therefore I remember (or at least think I can) the endings and the perpetrator. ABC murders wasn’t one that I can ever recall seeing, so it was nice starting one of her more well known books without the ending being compromised.

Unlike her usual storyline of a single murder and the unravelling of clues, this time the killer is actively taunting Poirot and giving him details of where the next killing is to take place. Seemingly unrelated, each murder is only linked by letters of the alphabet. Poirot must use all of ingenuity to solve an apparently motiveless crime before the body count stacks up too high. Narrated by Captain Hastings we are not privy to the internal working of Poirot’s little grey cells and find ourselves trying work out his next step from the evidence given. The usual crew of jilted lovers and jealous family members are present and each murder has it’s suspects, but is there anything that links them all together?

I enjoyed the book but something that really bugs me is when characters speak in a foreign language. There are more than a few times where Poirot shouts out an exclamation in French and I am sat there wondering if it adds to the story or not, I am sure it doesn’t bother most people and adds to the authenticity of the character, it just isn’t for me.

A simple plot with incredibly complex undertones, anyone who is a fan of the genre or Christie will enjoy this.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 August 2014
'The A.B.C. Murders- is a Poirot book published in 1936. Colonel Arthur Hastings, Poirot's old friend, is the narrator and describes how Poirot received typewritten letters from someone signing himself (or herself) A.B.C. Each, horrifyingly, gives the date and place of the next murder and the killings seem to be in alphabetical order. Alice Ascher is killed at Andover, Betty Barnard in Bexhill and Sir Carmichael Clarke at his home in Churston. The killer leaves an ABC railway guide at each murder site. But why does A.B.C. write to Poirot? And why does Poirot's address seem to have been deliberately misspelt?
Episodes in the life of Alexander Bonaparte Cust are appended to each chapter told by Hastings. He is an epileptic, having served in the war and received a head injury leaving him with blackouts and severe headaches, and now he finds it difficult to get work. Poirot hopes to get new information by uniting the relatives against the murderer. The police are not helpful to Poirot, belittling his abilities.
Agatha Christie had used the device of combining first- and third-person storytelling in 'The Man in the Brown Suit' and she uses it again in this book. She enjoyed experimenting with point-of-view and had done so very successfully in 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.' As usual, she constructs an ingenious plot with many surprises and twists and turns and, also as usual, her characters are psychologically interesting. I'm not a great fan of Poirot - he does seem too ridiculous to be true - but that's a personal view and I recognise how popular and clever the Poirot books are, despite Christie's pedestrian writing style. This is a very good book and it may be my fault that I can't work up a great enthusiasm for it! Many people think it is her best book.
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'The A.B.C. Murders- is a Poirot book published in 1936. Colonel Arthur Hastings, Poirot's old friend, is the narrator and describes how Poirot received typewritten letters from someone signing himself (or herself) A.B.C. Each, horrifyingly, gives the date and place of the next murder and the killings seem to be in alphabetical order. Alice Ascher is killed at Andover, Betty Barnard in Bexhill and Sir Carmichael Clarke at his home in Churston. The killer leaves an ABC railway guide at each murder site. But why does A.B.C. write to Poirot? And why does Poirot's address seem to have been deliberately misspelt?
Episodes in the life of Alexander Bonaparte Cust are appended to each chapter told by Hastings. He is an epileptic, having served in the war and received a head injury leaving him with blackouts and severe headaches, and now he finds it difficult to get work. Poirot hopes to get new information by uniting the relatives against the murderer. The police are not helpful to Poirot, belittling his abilities.
Agatha Christie had used the device of combining first- and third-person storytelling in 'The Man in the Brown Suit' and she uses it again in this book. She enjoyed experimenting with point-of-view and had done so very successfully in 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.' As usual, she constructs an ingenious plot with many surprises and twists and turns and, also as usual, her characters are psychologically interesting. I'm not a great fan of Poirot - he does seem too ridiculous to be true - but that's a personal view and I recognise how popular and clever the Poirot books are, despite Christie's pedestrian writing style. This is a very good book and it may be my fault that I can't work up a great enthusiasm for it!
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on 4 January 2011
An unknown person challenges Poirot to solve murders of unconnected people by means of a series of letters, one letter sent before each murder.

A tobacconist with the initials A.A. is duly murdered in Andover and a waitress with the initials B.B. is strangled at Bexhill-on-Sea a month later. Poirot receives a third letter threatening a third murder in Churston, Devon.

How far will the series of murders continue before Poirot discovers the killer's identity and the reason for the murderous procession through the alphabet?

ABC Murders is brilliantly original, unusual and inspirational for many similar serial-crime stories of other UK and US crime writers, and noteworthy for a concise masterpiece of exposition by Poirot near the story's end on the rationale behind serial murder and the reasons why this series was different.

Quite simply, brilliant! So too is the TV equivalent featuring David Suchet which, along with other episodes, painstakingly reproduces much 1930s period detail.
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