WHAT a smashing read this book is, even 98 years after it was written.

In 2013 ”The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” was voted the best crime novel ever by the British Crime Writer’s Assocaition and who am I to disagree?

From the very first page, this is an enthralling read, as we meet our narrator, Dr. Sheppard and hear him grumbling about his overly inquisitive sister Caroline:

”The motto of the mongoose family, so Mr. Kipling tells us is:’Go and find out.” If Caroline ever adopts a crest, I should certainly suggest a mongooses rampant. One might omit the first part of the motto. Caroline can do any amount of finding out by sitting placidly at home. I don’t know how she manages it, but there it is.”

One of the delights of this book is that we encounter Hercule Poirot again – always a joy – but seen through the eyes of his neighbour, our narrator, Dr. Sheppard:

”The house next door, The Larches, has recently been taken by a stranger. To Caroline’s extreme annoyance, she has not been able to find out anything about him, except that he is a foreigner…His name, apparently, is Mr. Porrott – a name which conveys an odd feeling of unreality…”

The discussion between brother and sister about the mis-named Mr. Porrott is delightful, with the doctor insisting he must be a retired hairdresser, and Caroline frustrated that he won’t divulge any information. He even denies being French. Which is normal, since our M. Poirot is Belgian, as we all know.

I have mentioned in earlier reviews of Ms Christie’s novels that I am pleased, and also fascinated, by the feisty females in her stories, and Flora Ackroyd does not disappoint.

It is always tricky to review a whodunnit, for fear of inadvertently plot-spoiling.

With a cracker of a book like this, where the twists and turns certainly kept me guessing right until the final page (and NO, I didn’t guess the outcome correctly!) I would hate to spoil anything for you.

Suffice it to say that we have a grand country house, a butler, servants, strong silent types who have lived overseas…elements that we have already come to expect from this astonishingly inventive writer.

In a contemporary review, The Scotsman wrote:

“Everybody in the story appears to have a secret of his or her own hidden up the sleeve, the production of which is imperative in fitting into place the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle…The tale may be recommended as one of the cleverest and most original of its kind.”

By the way, the …In that quotation above is me taking out the plot spoiler The Scotsman rather thoughtlessly included.

A smashing book that has aged well.

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