MR. Hercule Poirot – You fancy yourself don’t you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor, thick headed British police? Let us see Mr clever Poirot, just how clever you can be. Perhaps you’ll find this nut too hard to crack. Look out for Andover on the 21st of the month.
This was the first of many letters from a killer, to be marked to the now retired detective- Hercule Poirot. Was this the work of a madman, a stupid hoax? The police certainly seemed to think it a joke. There were no fingerprints on the letter, no clues to our possible killer but a place in Andover there was. So it should be that a telephone call informed Poirot, that a woman by the name of Ascher at such a place was found to be murdered. With the only workings of Poirot’s little grey cells amongst the crowd, accompanied by his good friend- Arthur Hastings, they went in seach of a murder.
Mrs. Ascher worked in a shop where a heavy blow to the back of the head presumably caused her death. Her blubbering of a husband – Franz Ascher, protested “I didn’t kill her”! While Poirot investigates his surroundings, an inspector informs him that a railway guide was left open (at the letter A), and faced down ontop of the counter at the crime scene. It seemed as though someone had been searching trains going through Andover. Poirots little grey cells brightened up. Why, It was an ABC railway guide. One of many that were left on each victim, as the killers trademark of sorts, implying “come find me if you can”.
Narrated in the accounts seen through Hastings eyes, often shifting to third person, the journey of such a murder mystery, marks a challenging and highly intrguing read of a madman, who prides himself in his anonymous kills. As Poirot would see him fit, a man “who is at great needs to express his personality”. ABC was a challenging match to Poirots own detective solving abilities. One that would see him in dangerous territories against the clock.
A most enthralling novel full of suspense, clever wit and a whole lot of drama, written with sheer passion that Agatha Christie, (the queen of crime) knew best, how to create in her intelligence. It portrays a great deal of charm through each character we get to meet, some displaying more boldness than others, as one mademoiselle recalls a character as “ an unmitigated little ass”! Equally, Hastings amusingly points out “Poirot you have dyed your hair!..I suppose next time I shall find you wearing a false moustache, or are you doing that now? ” This ongoing goodwill humour is present in the exchange of two dear friends which make Agatha’s novels all the more captivating.
From one of my favourite authors, comes one of my favourite stories amongst the many exciting reads that she had created in her novels, for the killer conveys an interesting form of sending letters, a sinister string of murders in alphabetical order, all the while, taunting Poirots genius and the readers in a beautiful, classic but unconventional ‘whodunnit’ mystery, wrapped up with another letter in another crime, all the way to Z end.
Credit: Book cover illustration by Roshsan Takhar