In The ABC Murders, Poirot is challenged by a serial killer, or it seems to be the case. The murderer is so bold that he even informs Poirot in advance where the murder is to take place. Moreover, the murderer chooses the place and the victim in alphabetical order.
Written as a first person and third person narrative by Arthur Hastings, the story marks a different writing approach by Agatha Christie. From the outset, the story presents us with a possible killer. There is no evidence but only suggestive inferences to intrigue the reader. The person is hidden from Poirot and the Police, and the Police and Poirot carry their own separate investigations on the murders that so painstakingly have taken place. The baffled police conclude that they are the action of a homicidal lunatic. But Poirot has reservations. In the absence of a clear motive, he feels that the Police are in error. And of course, he is right as always!
The ABC murders has a complex plot. More than in any other Poirot reads, here we see the great detective a little rattled. He cannot comprehend the motive behind the unnatural killings. Poirot’s temperament due to this incomprehension, Hastings constant nagging for action and reproaches for inaction produces humourous dialogues that entertain the reader pretty much. And Poirot’s brilliance is once again displayed when he cleverly summarizes the evidence which coupled with his power of deduction enlightens all as to the real murderer and the motive behind the murders.
There is no doubt that the plot is ingenious. There is also no doubt as to my enjoyment of the story. But somehow I felt a little cheated with the final revelation. It was an unexpected surprise. Throughout the read, I cannot recall any possible clue that pointed toward the real murderer. It seemed that Agatha Christie has deliberately kept some vital clues away from the readers. And I felt that that was not fair play. My detective mind was sadly plagued.