Mrs Ferrars was being blackmailed and apparently had had enough. But before choosing to end things, she sent a letter to her paramour Roger Ackroyd, naming her blackmailer. But Ackroyd makes the mistake of keeping the name to himself and, it seems, the blackmailer takes another step on the ladder of crime, switching to murder to protect their secret.
Unfortunately for the murderer, there is a newcomer to the village. He was content to grow vegetable marrows but takes little persuasion in taking up the case. Hercule Poirot apparently cannot resist the lure of a case where someone has moved a chair for no good reason. But a seemingly prosaic case ends up being one of Agatha Christie’s most celebrated books.
And, of course, I can’t say why. How on earth do I review this one without spoiling things for the reader? Forgive me if you’ve read the book – if you haven’t, for goodness sake, why not? – but I’m not going to discuss the thing at all. In fact, I’m going to keep the review very brief.
It’s been feted as Christie’s masterpiece, which is a bit of shame as it was only her sixth novel and only the third Poirot (and the next was the badly received The Big Four). There are a few who pour scorn on the trickery involved here, but, in my humble opinion, they’re in the wrong here. This is a truly great mystery. I took a look at it as I trawl through some Golden Age authors that I’ve haven’t encountered before to remind myself what the competition was like, but I’d completely forgotten just how good it is.
It’s completely fairly played, with every member of the cast contributing something towards the plot, and, unlike some mysteries, benefits from a re-read to appreciate just how fair things are.
But I’ll say no more – just read it. It’s a true classic. Highly Recommended.