The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a 1926 work of detective fiction by the ‘Queen of Crime’, Agatha Christie. It is widely considered to be her masterpiece and one of the best detective fiction novels of all time. It features the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, in a classic village murder mystery, loaded with intrigue and suspicion. The reason why this book has garnered so much acclaim is due to its unorthodox style of narration and its completely overwhelming conclusion.
The story begins in the home of Dr.Sheppard, the narrator of the story. His sister, Caroline, brings up the topic of the suicide of one of their neighbours, Mrs. Ferrars. The reader is then introduced to the inhabitants of the village of King’s Abbot, where the doctor resides. Dr. Sheppard meets his friend and the titular character, Roger Ackroyd, who seems to be in a preoccupied mood that day. Roger insists that Sheppard should come to dine at his house that night.
After dinner, Ackroyd reveals to Dr.Sheppard that he and Mrs. Ferrars indeed had a relationship in the past and that she had confessed to having killed her husband. Someone got to know of that and had blackmailed her so excessively that she had committed suicide. However, before she died she had sent the name of the blackmailer to Roger in an envelope. Ackroyd proposes to open the envelope in front of Sheppard. After taking the necessary precautions, Ackroyd undergoes a change of heart and decides to open the envelope privately. Sheppard then leaves as he is unable to convince him. In a few hours, he receives a call claiming that Roger has been found murdered in his study. The police soon get involved and at the behest of Ackroyd’s daughter, Flora, while they consult Poirot, a retired Belgian detective. What follows is a web of deceit, secrets and suspicion as Poirot sets out to unravel this baffling mystery, aided by the enthusiastic Dr.Sheppard.
The plot is so engrossing that one can literally live the story. The number of suspects soon increase and new facts brought to light, pique the interest of the readers. This story is considered to be a benchmark for other Agatha Christie novels.
However, at times, the mind of the reader becomes clouded by unnecessary details and lack of action in the plot. Since the book features a single murder, it might not be as engrossing for those who prefer dynamic and violent mysteries. The unexpected turn of events in the story may baffle those who would rather like a straightforward plot. Nevertheless, this book is a must read for true crime fiction connoisseurs and Agatha Christie loyalists. The truly startling denouement of the story is uncommonly original and makes it arguably one of the best Christie novels.