Glorifying the ABC Murders: One of Agatha Christie’s best books

abc murders by agatha christie

I just finished reading ‘the ABC murders’ this morning and I am totally spellbound by the novel hitherto, which is why I am writing this post to share my experience with the readers of the blog of bx-zone.com.

You know, every time I go to the books store to buy some best crime novels my attention turns towards the shelf carrying Agatha Christie’s best books. What a stunning author she was! Truly blessed to write some of the best fiction novels of crime.

In all my past 4 to 5 visits, I have ended up buying Hercule Poirot books from the books store and nothing else, no non-fiction, no fiction of any other author, no biography nor any magazine. The last visit to the books store helped me get my hands on to ‘the ABC murders’.

Even though, I am an avid reader and I had read more than 3 Agatha Christie novels by the time I bought ‘the ABC Murders’ but I still did not know what amazing Agatha Christie writing style this novel holds in itself.

This doesn’t mean that her writing style is anything less than par excellence in other novels of the Hercule Poirot character but you know sometimes, some books leave an imprint on your memory and stimulate you to write about them, ‘the abc murders’ is one such fiction work, one of the best Agatha Christie Novels I would say.

The Hercule Poirot Character

I knew a little about the character of Hercule Poirot before even reading a single novel of the character. With the release of the Murder on the Orient Express movie, many people availed the chance to create an acquaintance with Hercule Poirot.

But, people in my vicinity still know a little or nothing about Hercule Poirot and thus for them, it is my responsibility as a writer of this article to tell a few characteristics and background of him.

You must have heard about Sherlock Holmes, and if you’re an Indian then surely about the detective Byomkesh Bakshi; Hercule Poirot belongs to the same class of people.

He is described by Agatha Christie as the best detective this world has ever seen, the one who is famous for looking at the obvious to solve the mysteries; using the common-sense which is not common among people. The methods of Hercule Poirot involve thinking through the incidences so that the dots can be connected, not relying heavily on the clue left by the criminal or the murderer but reforming the crime scene in mind to exactly extract out the truth. Yes, but it does involve interrogating the people associated in any way with the victims of the crime, even those who are remotely associated.

A peculiar characteristic of Hercule Poirot is to display the courage to recognize himself as the best detective of the world; if you’re thinking it’s self-proclaimed then don't because, he indeed, is the best detective as described by his creator Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot is a Belgian detective who lives in the United Kindgom, London to be precise in most of his cases.

This was a short account of Hercule Poirot and you’ll know much more of him while reading the plot of ‘the abc murders’ which is my next section.

‘The ABC Murders’

The narration of the story is being done by Captain Hastings, a friend of Hercule Poirot who happens to visit him in London. They both greet and meet each other with Captain Hastings being amazed at how Hercule Poirot’s hair is greying in reverse.

Hercule Poirot then comes up with his secret endorsing a bottle of potion he uses to keep his hair black.

A from the ABC murders

A little later in the meet, Hercule Poirot shows Captain Hastings the letter which he’s received a couple of days ago, which is a source of bother for him currently.

The letter has actually challenged him that a murder in Andover is going to take place on the 21st of the June to which he is surprised as who has done that. The ‘yours truly’ section endorses the name ‘ABC’ and nothing else about the whereabouts of the letter can be known.

Hercule Poirot shows the letter to the Inspector Japp of the Scotland Yard and they all have no option than to wait in order to confirm if it’s not a hoax. However, on 21st June, a murder happens in Andover, an old woman, probably in her sixties, is found dead behind the counter of her shop in which she sold cheap cigarettes & tobacco.

Hercule Poirot is informed of the situation, he is also informed the woman’s name to be Mrs Ascher who lived as 'separated' from her husband Frank Ascher as he would drink day & night and would even talk in a drunken stupor. The peculiar part of the crime scene is that an ABC (which used to be the Bradshaw railway time table in those days) is found opened, upside down, kept on the counter. The killer after committing the sordid crime left his/her sign to tease Hercule Poirot.

Had it not been for the letter, Frank Ascher would have been totally arrested under the suspicion for his wife’s murder. The only thing which gets confirmed is that the murder was being done between 5:30 to 6 PM in the evening.

The witnesses are questioned, the relatives are questioned but nothing comes out; Mr Poirot suspects it to be a series of Murders

B from the ABC murders

Hercule Poirot receives the second letter stating teasing him about his helplessness in the case, that he couldn’t do anything to stop the first murder and he still stands clueless. The Murderer gives the date of the second murder which he will attempt on 25th July in Bexhill on sea.

The murder happens! The victim being a girl named Betty Bernard strangled with a belt of her own. Her body is found on the beach with an ABC found open under her body.

Hercule Poirot reaches the crime scene to find that the girl was a waitress who worked in a café up the beach. The two names which come up associated with the girl victim are Donald Fraser and Megan Bernard. The former is the boyfriend of Betty and the latter is the sister.

Even though, everyone speaks nice about Betty Bernard’s character but her sister speaks of her as an unmitigated flirt which brings Donald Fraser in the picture as he knew about his girlfriend’s character meeting and spending time with other men.

Here again, had it not been for the letter, the police would have totally placed all its accusations on Donald Fraser.

C from the ABC Murders

The crime now shapes into a series of murders, the ABC murders series. The Scotland Yard, Hercule Poirot and the local police remains with no other option than to publicize the matter and they do it by bringing it upfront in the Newspaper.

Also, at this time, Hercule Poirot receives the third letter from the ‘Yours truly’ ABC giving him the date and location of the next murder which happens to be Churston on the 30th. Sir Carmichael Clarke is found dead with his head bashed and the criminal again leaving an ABC open at the crime scene.

Poirot and Hastings reach Churston to do the investigation. It is when they find out that Sir Carmichael Clarke was a famous throat specialist with no children of his own. He inherited his uncle’s wealth and built a house of his own. His family included his brother Franklin Clarke & his wife lady Clarke who was suffering from cancer.

Also, comes into picture Miss Thora grey who is the secretary of the late Sir Charmichael Clarke. Hercule Poirot is pensive at this moment after he has spoken with everyone related to the case, as the Police, the Scotland Yard & everyone else is suspecting this to be the work of madman without any logic.

However, Hercule Poirot is still thinking in the other direction and is trying to refuse that there is no logic in the ABC murders series. He has got some idea about the behavior of the murdered which is why he is refraining himself from thinking in the other direction in which everyone else is thinking.

The 4th Letter

Poirot tears open the 4th letter just to find out the location and the date of the next location which happens to be Doncaster, Sep 11th. An environment of panic now prevails in the area with the people whose surname start with ‘D’ keeping themselves low, in their houses.

The Police taking every precaution possible to prevent the next murder from being happening. While on Sep 11th, in a cinema, a man is asking for a passage to reach to his respective seat from the person who has sunk so low in his seat as if he is sick or dead.

Dead? The man shakes the person sitting, with elbow only to get no response from him, but when the glare of the screen hits the person, blood is seen. The man shouts ‘Murder’ and again an ABC is found beneath the seat of the person killed.

The commissionaire while rushing to the scene gets hit by a person named Alexander Bonaparte Cust and finds stains of blood on his coat.

After the news spread out to the Police it is known that the man who died doesn’t have his initials starting with ‘D’, however, the man who was sitting just next to the victim had his initials with ‘D’, so it becomes clear that in the dark the killer made a mistake by stabbing the wrong man.

Alexander Bonaparte Cust

Alexander Bonaparte Cust lives in a lodge of Mrs Marbury. Mrs Marbury has got a daughter Lily who sympathizes with Mr Cust and there is Tom Hartigan who catches the lie of Mr Cust. As when he met Mr Cust, he found him rushing out with his briefcase; asking him about where he was going Mr Cust told him a different town name altogether while he was going to Doncaster. He narrates the entire incident to Police with Lily accompanying him.

After the 4th murder, Mr Cust is in his room wiping his coat and the knife which was in his pocket. He is shaky seeing the stains of blood all over the wash basin when he hears a knock on the door by Mrs Marbury. Mrs Marbury sees the blood in the basin, Mr Cust is worried, and he is shaky and trembling.

Suddenly, Mr Cust goes downstairs as he receives a call from a lady who warns him to leave as the police will be in the lodge at any time to see him. Mr Cust leaves soon, his body language fearful & wobbly informing Mrs Marbury that he has a train to catch.

Mr Alexander Bonaparte Cust is standing outside the tobacco shop in Andover; this is the shop which was run by Mrs Ascher, the first victim of the ABC Murders.

He is hungry, and is out of will power. He starts walking and after a short while, willingly stumbles into the Police Station of Andover.

Ending of the ABC murders’ series

The Scotland Yard and the local police is totally calm and relaxed now as the serial killer of the ABC murders is now under arrest. Mr Cust is in jail now but there is a twist he is pleading innocence and doesn’t remember to have committed all these murders. His mental health is not up to the mark which is why he seems to have not committed all those crimes.

However, Hercule Poirot is not convinced yet, he is unable to accept that the nature of all these murders is illogical.

Well he is also indignant at the fact of Mr Cust being shoved in the remand room as the smell of something fishy was only reaching to him & no one else, everyone else in the legion turned complacent.

So here, Hercule Poirot puts together all the events one after another and tries to look at the obvious. His friend captain Hastings unknowingly gives him a clue which acts a trigger to the logic he was always trying to build and he revisits all the crime scenes. In the end, he cherishes being successful at establishing the logic behind the murders.

Spoiler Alert

If you’re intrigued by reading the plot of Agatha Christie’s the ABC murders and wants to get your hands on the novel right away then this section is not for you because here I am revealing who committed the crime. So, Spoiler Alert if you really want to get the experience of this smashing novel of Agatha Christie genre then do not read further.

Hercule Poirot is in the room with Captain Hastings, Megan Bernard, Donald Fraser, Miss Grey and Franklin Clarke. He reveals that Mr Cust has not committed those murders, but it’s someone else who has use him as a pawn to fulfill a vested purpose. Mr Cust has been tricked to reach all those scenes of murders by this queer fellow.

Mr Cust was actually employed as a salesman of silk stockings by the real murderer, to which he had no knowledge of. Actually, all the murders except C from the ABC (Sir Carmichael Clarke) were done in order to shadow the real reason which was inheritance of the wealth of Sir Clarke.

Yes, Mr Poirot points out the real murderer to be Franklin Clarke, the brother of Sir Carmichael Clarke, who created this plan of the ABC murders series or else the truth about the murder of his brother would be out in the open unless it were for those supporting murders.

Even the murder of Doncaster was unnecessary but was done in order to frame Mr Cust and bring him out to the Police. Franklin Clarke, on revelation of the truth, takes out the gun from his pocket and tries to shoot himself only to find it empty. Mr Hercule Poirot already took care of it. In the end, he is taken away by the agents of the Scotland Yard.

Final Word

Agatha Christie’s list of books include many thrillers but 'the ABC Murders' stays one of my favorites, one of the best Agatha Christie Novels for me.

Next time, when you visit a books store I am sure you would like to pick up one of the books of Hercule Poirot character because he is as good as Sherlock Holmes and you really get entertained while reading him.

So, how was this brief account of the Hercule Poirot’s the abc murders? Was it breathtaking? Did you feel the same thrill as me?

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