Book Review: The A.B.C. Murders

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie (Amazon)

Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is one of the most famous fiction detectives of the 20th century, so famous he was given an obituary in The New York Times upon his fictional death. Poirot was featured in more than thirty books and numerous more short stories over fifty years. The neat, dandy, and brilliant Belgian who used his "little grey cells" to solve numerous cases, has been played by numerous actors over the years, but none more memorable than David Suchet. So with a story like The A.B.C. Murders, there is the novel and there is the movie. A brief background (from Amazon):
"Apparently, a homicidal maniac is terrorizing England as he taunts Poirot with advance notice of the time and place of his next murder. Because the victims and towns they live in occur in alphabetical order (Mrs. Ascher is killed in Andover, Miss Barnard in Bexhill, Mr. Clarke in Churston, etc.) and because the killer leaves an ABC Railway Guide at each murder scene, the case becomes known as the the ABC murders."
In both the print and televised versions, Christie's knack for misleading the reader/viewer is apparent. Much like Poirot must sort through what's said by characters through interviews and such to find the truth, we must sort through what's written by the author to find the truth. While this may seem misleading or manipulative, it is what makes her novels - and the extremely competent screen adaptations, aided no doubt by Suchet's masterful portrayal of Poirot - so enjoyable. We think we know what's going on, but ultimately we find out that we only knew what Christie wanted us to know. Discovering the truth requires clever thinking on our parts, paralleling Poirot's use of his "little grey cells."