The ABC Murders

ISBN: 0671805215
ISBN 13: 9780671805210
By: Agatha Christie

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About this book

Alice Ascher, a shopkeeper in Andover, is bludgeoned to death at her place of work. Next to die is Miss Bernard in Bexhill, then Mr. Clarke in Churston. More disturbing than the alphabetic sequence of the killings or the ABC Railway guide that the killer leaves at the crime scenes are the taunting notes warning Hercule Poirot before each murder.

Reader's Thoughts


Just like the scheduling details in Hampton's ABC Railway Guide, Hercule Poirot is receiving letters taunting him with the specific dates and places of the murders of random victims whose surnames begin with A, B, C, and D. The mad serial killer threatens to continue murdering through each letter of the alphabet!What is the connection between the killer's ABC signature, the railway schedule, and Alexander Bonaparte Cust, a traveling salesman following Hampton's Guide who just happened to be in each hamlet on the designated day of a murder selling silk stockings? A shabby sort of person, he wasn't the kind of man you'd notice. Periot wonders if we've just described the perfect murderer.The first victim is in Andover, a 60 year old shopkeeper named Mrs. Ascher who is beaten to death. She's been separated from her 70 year old alcoholic husband for several years. The next letter to Periot announces an upcoming murder in Bexhill. Miss Barnard is strangled with her belt. Her boyfriend is known to be possessive, jealous of male attention to his girlfriend, but he was eliminated as a suspect by an eyewitness account. The third letter is sent to the wrong address delaying its delivery until after the murder. Sir Carmichael of Churston is the victim. He is an elderly millionare with a terminally ill wife and an attractive secretary. Venturing on a usual evening walk, he is killed by a blow to the back of his head, but who will benefit? On September 9 in Doncaster there is a horse racing event drawing the majority of the citizens to the track. Periot, Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp ask for the victim's families help to identify the culprit. But are they witnesses to the "D" murder, or is this affair just a distracting ploy?Hundreds of miles along the railway and every difference of lifestyle separate the victims. And why is the killer sending taunting letters announcing his next crimes to Periot? What is the motive for the murders, and what is the motive for the warning letters?It's all there for mystery sleuths to solve...the date and place of the murders, first initial of the victim's surnames along the schedule of the rail. But nothing is simply in this 1936 Agatha Christie classic. Highly Recommended.

Dean Goldstein

The ABC Murders is the second Poirot book I've read, and it didn't disappoint. When it appeared that the ending was clear, I turned to my mum next to me and told her how disappointed I was at the resolution. A vintage crime veteran, she told me to not judge so quickly. (view spoiler)[Right she was, too. Because there were still 50 pages left and the murderer turned out to be the one character who I was completely not expecting. I spent most of the book trying to find a plot whereby Fraser was the criminal but - as I am fast discovering - Christie doesn't operate like that. She dangles the proverbial carrot in front of you and distracts you with it while she goes on to greater things. The very idea that Franklin Clarke, who seemed to register his brother's money as an afterthought when he organised the search party, was the murderer was quite amazing. (hide spoiler)]Whilst the prose isn't the strongest and Christie does fail to capture the civilised settings that she bases the murders in, the description of the coast is truly breathtaking in the most understated way possible.I can't wait for a long friendship between my self and the stories of M. Poirot.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

An Odd1

** spoiler alert ** 5* "The A.B.C. Murders" by Agatha Christie is better because clues are up front, not trivia we could not possibly know, although some, as always, are saved for the dramatic final reveal. Christie's forte is creating atmosphere of 1935 England, with cozy chatty relationship details like ever-popular soap operas. An A.B.C. British railway schedule is left by each body, and a taunting note with the next location and day sent to Hercule Poirot. A mystery should be savored slowly, to give bubbles of recognition, subconscious intuition, time to surface and pop. "In the haystack there is a needle." Poirot p98Poirot shows narrator Captain Arthur Hastings, visiting from his wife in South America, a boast for murder on June 21 at Andover. Inspector Japp scoffs at the typical hoax, until elderly shop-keeper found bashed dead. Mrs Ascher was publicly often threatened by her drunken ex-husband, mourned by neat Mary Drower, the niece she raised. Poirot notes "the amazing magnanimity of the murderer" p68, which recurs; without the ABC, the main suspects would be arrested. The criminal appears to have two personalities, an inconspicuous appearance but challenging writing.Pretty waitress flirt Betty Barnard in Bexhill has jealous quiet boyfriend Donald Fraser and sensible sister Megan. Vigorous Sir Clarke in Churston had smashing blonde Swedish secretary Thora Grey, hoofed out by fatally ill wife, afraid for his childish returned brother Franklin. The soon-to-be heir funds the bereaved to be a Special Legion. In their common observations, Poirot recognizes a stocking salesman whom Thora must recall, after Lady Clarke insists the beauty lied about no strangers around. The author, obstensibly Hastings as noted in the foreword, intersperses third party sections about travelling lodger Alexander Bonaparte Cust. The epileptic's memory lapses since his war-time head injury. After a stranger, not D-, is stabbed dead (how easy would that truly be in the dark, even by a soldier?) in the Doncaster cinema, Cust finds the bloody knife in his pocket, so confesses to all the murders, but denies the letters, and an alibi for Bexhill comes forward. If only one murder were sensibly motivated and the others coverup, then who would be the perpetrator?(view spoiler)[Franklin met the troubled Cust, sent him stockings, ABCs, customer schedule, Poirot the warning notes, delayed C too late deliberately by mis-addressing. Witnesses connecting his whereabouts to crimes are Christie's hidden clues. Poirot even lies about Franklin's fingerprint on Cust's typewriter to provoke a confession. Excess? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Nikita (NjKinny's World of Books & Stuff) "...Let us see, Mr. Clever Poirot, just how clever you can be..." says the letter which marks the beginning of a madman's killing spree across England with only his letters and the ABC railway guides left behind after every murder as clues and his stubborn adherence to the alphabetical order. While there is no apparent symmetry in the logic behind the choosing of the victims, one thing is clear, this is a case most unique and one which could just become the first ever case where Poirot fails to catch the criminal!One thing that is guaranteed when you pick up an Agatha Christie book is the completely out of the box nature of the crimes and an assurance that by the end you will be left speechless and completely awed!The same thing happened with me while reading The A.B.C. Murders. The plot is simply ingenious and one which I could never have imagined. The fact that this book was written as far back as in 1936 simply blew away my mind.The story line is well conceived and executed with expertly planned and thrown twists and turns. In this book, Poirot and Hastings are on the hunt together again which was great. I love the duo, with Hastings' simple naivety which symbolizes the general public and Poirot's infamous "little grey cells" which are rare and I think possessed only by him! :)The author gives gives her views on the general anticipation of people for colorful, filmy style mysteries with devious and brooding characters which are often so far removed from the real noteworthy crimes that are always "simple". She gives an example of one of her great mysteries, Cards on the Table and which was yet unpublished when this book came out. Similarly, the author uses Hastings and Poirot to give an in depth insight into human motives, actions and their general character which is eye opening and left me with great respect for the author. Only a person who has experienced life and carefully studied human nature can give this much insight and beautifully use her knowledge to give a mystery that makes its place among the top written mysteries of all time.There are many memorable quotes that stay with you long after you have finished reading the book. Some of the quotes that I liked were: 1) 'Death, mademoiselle, unfortunately creates a prejudice. A prejudice in favor of the deceased...'2) 'It's like all those quiet people, when they do lose their tempers they lose them with a vengeance..'3) 'When I know what the murderer is like, I shall be able to find out who he is.'4) '...Murder, I have often noticed, is a great matchmaker.'5) 'Our weapon is our knowledge. But remember, it may be a knowledge we may not know that we possess.'6) 'There is nothing so terrible as to live in an atmosphere of suspicion - to see eyes watching you and the love in them changing to fear - nothing so terrible as to suspect those near and dear to you - It is poisonous - a miasma.'7) 'Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.' 8) 'His mind, shrinking from reality, ran for safety along these unimportant details.'9) “Who are you? You don't belong to the police?''I am better than the police,' said Poirot. He said it without conscious arrogance. It was, to him, a simple statement of fact.” The characterization is admirably done and each character is diligently kept under suspicion with clues thrown here and there.Their physical appearance is also depicted in such a manner that it is easily relatable to their real character. Agatha Christie keeps one step ahead of the reader throughout and when the climax comes, she succeeds in shocking the reader.I loved this book through and through. The A.B.C. Murders has great dialogues, expertly developed and very teaching characters and a mystery that stays with the reader long after completing the book. A book that can be read any number of times and which will leave you surprised and awed each time, I give The A.B.C. Murders 5 super shining stars. Go buy and read this book, it is not to be missed! :)

Houry Keshishian

The A.B.C. Murders is a good book. This is the first time I read Agatha Christie. At the beginning, I was somehow disappointed, because there was no mystery to be solved by the reader. You’ll just have to read read read, and wait for Poirot to solve the mystery and give you a big surprise. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the psychological analysis that Poirot did at the end of the book, and this made the book worth the effort. I especially liked when he demonstrated that someone who believes in fate can confess about committing a murder without even committing it. What a genius!

Rajeshwari Tagore

The set-up of the story is really amazing. But, as one progresses through the book, one soon sees that this is definitely not one of Agatha Christie's Best, smashing book.In fact, it isn't quite Christie at all. The finish is not logical.But one can always read the book and judge for oneself, so happy reading!And if your initials are A.A. better be careful!


This was a very enjoyable read. Dame Agatha lulls you into a false sense of self-confidence of making you think you know who the killer is, but leaving enough clues for you to look back and think yourself the fool when the book wraps up.I love the character of Hercule Poirot, so it is an easy book to love. He is so quirky.I will say, this is the first book by Agatha Christie I've ever read. I've become a fan of Poirot by watching the well-done BBC films, starring David Suchet.It may sound childish to remark, but the words on the pages were very large, making a large number of pages digestible in one sitting. That made it encouraging to continue reading, coupled with the compelling plot, it made the book darn near impossible to put down.

Julie Davis

I really shouldn't have started this book since I have so many others I'm reading right now. However, I saw it was $1.99 for the Kindle and couldn't resist. This is one of my favorite Poirot mysteries, partially because of the other character through whose eyes we see during the book. After reading Sherlock Holmes fairly devotedly for a while, I am rather stunned to see what a dunderhead Captain Hastings is compared to Dr. Watson. However, I'm enjoying the book quite a lot. I recall a couple of main plot points but not the overall solution.FINALClassic Poirot and Agatha Christie.


Before I begin my review, let me start off my saying I am a HUGE fan of Agatha Christie. Throughout the years I have always used her novels as "go to" books if I am in a literary dry spell and yearn to read something I am guarentee to enjoy. My girl Aggie usually hits the spot! However, sadly, I must say that "The A.B.C. Murders" is thus far my least favourite of all her books. The following may contain spoilers:Poirot, everyone's favourite detective, receives a mysterious letter warning him of a crime to hit Adover: and Hercule correctly predicts murder. Soon a string of murders spread out among different cities and a variety of victims begins to occur. The only thing in common is that the murderer sends a letter prior to the tragedies, each victim's name corresponds to the next letter of the alphabet, and an A.B.C. train book is always at the scene of every crime. Now Poirot teams up with the friends and family of the victims to try to prevent the killer from moving his way up the alphabet!Now, the premise and general story are quite interesting. However, I just felt like this book was different from many of the other that I love. Call me old fashioned, but I like the "Oh no, there is a murder! I will gather clues, interview each person one by one, and then gather them together and spring the answer on everyone with the killer present!" And although this book also sort of follows that formula, it just isn't as...hmmm effective I guess as other books like "Murder on the Orient Express" or "Appointment with Death". I don't know...something just seemed missing and I didn't feel invested with any of the characters. So, Aggie my girl, I love ya, but this one was just so-so for me.


I won't say too much so as not to spoil it for those who've not yet had the pleasure - but the basis of this book has been used in loads of books since written and films produced. What an original thinker Agatha Christie was... The book is thrilling and sinister and a superb ending...great Poirot to start you off if you've not already discovered him

Amin El alami

ABC Murders is a great story, but it wasn’t meant to be a video game and it shows. DS-owning Agatha Christie fans might get a kick out of it, but the game just isn’t as engaging or fun as the other point-and-click puzzlers on the system.The ABC Murders may lack the attention to detail and high levels of presentation found in the Layton titles, yet it should definitely appeal to the same market sector thirsty for more puzzle solving.Agatha Christie was obviously a masterful author, and The A.B.C. Murders could have been an engaging interactive companion to one of her most famous works.The book features the characters of Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp. The form of the novel is unusual, combining first- and third-person narrative. This approach was famously pioneered by Charles Dickens in Bleak House, and was tried by Agatha Christie in The Man in the Brown Suit. What is unusual in The A.B.C. Murders is that the third-person narrative is supposedly reconstructed by the first-person narrator, Hastings. This approach shows Christie's commitment to experimenting with point of view, famously exemplified by The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. A. B. C. – unknown cold-blooded serial killer and Poirot's nemesis in this novel. He kills his victims in alphabetical order and leaves an ABC railway guide depicting the scene of crime as his calling card.


Another brilliant book by Agatha Christie. I am still waiting for a bad book but appearantly there are none to be found.One thing I loved about this book is the fact that it is not written from Poirot's point of view, but Hastings'. Mostly because I can identify with Hastings since like me (or most readers) he has pretty much no idea what is going on Poirot's head until Poirot decides to tell him.I can say though (finally) that I was able to tell who the murderer was before the freaking last two chapters.Can't wait to read more.

Nancy O'Toole

I've read quite a few Agatha Christie books, but a little while back I got burned by a particularly bad one (The Big Four) which ended up putting me off her books for a while. I'm glad I decided to come back though, as The ABC Murders is pretty much everything you'd want in a Hercule Poirot book, an intricate little mystery filled with surprising twists, a colorful cast of characters, and just the right mix of humor and drama. Retired detective, Hercule Poirot finds himself facing a very different type of murderer, a madman who announces his intents by letter before claiming his victims in a manner which appears most haphazard. Will Poirot's "little grey cells" be up to the task?If you're a fan of Agatha Christie's work, the ABC Murders is certainly not to be missed. As I have with many of Christie's works, I went with the audio book for this one, and I found it to be quite well done. If you're looking for a fast and fun mystery book that keeps you guessing until the end, I would recommend the ABC Murders.


I got 10 of these books for my birthday, so there might be a few reviews in the foreseeable future. I grew up reading Agatha Christie, and to this day she's one of my go-to authors when I want a comfy, interesting and straight-to-the-chase book. This one is very good. Poirot is at his best and for once directly involved in the murders, as the murderer contacts him beforehand. I had an inkling of where the story would be headed, but I hadn't figured it out before the big reveal. It will keep you guessing, and though some of you will read it and think it's a little predictable then that's most likely because this type of plot has been copied a bit over the years. The cast of side characters is rather good in this one as well - although this is something I think Christie has always done well. She makes them all interesting and some of them very likeable and you're afraid to pick a favorite because they'll probably have done it in the end. Never you mind, it's one of her better books, and perfect for a lazy afternoon on the couch.


This is the "serial killer" one out of the Christie opus, a murderer with an alphabetical fixation gradually bringing England into a frenzy as 4 murder victims pile up.Normally I deplore the "serial killer" genre, the one which has strangely 1,000 books published from various Scandinavian countries that probably have 1 or 2 such fiends a century. But we accept Christie can do anything, we already accept the fantasy of "clever" murders solved by old ladies and vain Belgians, not the reality of moronic true crime investigated by tired, traumatized, bureaucratic laden city policemen. Of course it is fun, a breezy read from the great Dame. Although seen as one of her classics, to me it fell short of her better ones. Too much sitting in a chair "thinking" from Hercule, no great jaw dropping twist, no great character development, and although I usually enjoy the psychological analysis by Christie, when "examining" the "mad" it all got a bit freaky:"A madman is as logical and reasoned in his actions as a sane man - given his peculiar biased point of view. For example, if a man insists on going out and squatting about in nothing but a loin cloth his conduct seems eccentric in the extreme. But once you know THAT THE MAN HIMSELF IS FIRMLY CONVINCED THAT HE IS MAHATMA GANDHI, then his conduct becomes perfectly reasonable and logical.Please Agatha, this is not right. :o(.

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