Welcome to today's stop on The Classics Circuit Golden Age of Detective Fiction Tour!
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express are two of Agatha Christie's best known novels featuring her eccentric Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Both are true murder mysteries, but the resolutions of the crimes in each story are very different than anything I have ever read before or since
In Ackroyd, a gentleman (Roger Ackroyd) is murdered at his home in a small English town to which M. Poirot has (conveniently) retired. Poirot is hired by Mr. Ackroyd's niece, Flora, to help find her fiance (and Ackroyd's stepson) Ralph Paton -- who mysteriously disappeared after Ackroyd's death and is as a result the prime suspect. The detective is assisted by Dr. James Sheppard, the town's physician and Poirot's neighbor, who dined with Ackroyd the evening he was killed.
In the Orient Express, a man is murdered in his train compartment, and because the train is stuck in the middle of nowhere due to a snowstorm, his killer must be another passenger on the train. Monsieur Poirot - a last minute passenger on the same train - is again asked to assist in the investigation. When the true identity of the victim is revealed, a motive becomes clear; determining who among the remaining passengers would have that motive for murder requires the use of Poirot's infamous "little gray cells".
I read both of these books for the first time when I was a teenager and remember being surprised by the endings. Reading them again for this Circuit post, I was able to pick up on the subtle and not-so-subtle clues Christie provided throughout the novels. I also didn't realize how witty her novels can be and how nice it is to read a novel simply to escape into its story. They are fun to read.