A staple in the crime mystery genre, Agatha Christie significantly influenced the popularity of murder-mysteries – an impact that continues even today. Although many of her titles and characters are noteworthy, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is arguably Christie at her best. It offers everything you could want in a Christie novel: murder, suspense, a series of clues that will have you trying to guess the culprit, not to mention the inclusion of one of her most famous characters, Hercule Poirot. Although not Poirot’s first appearance, the novel is easily accessible to readers who haven’t had experience with his other encounters. The novel has gained popularity for its surprise ending in particular, as Christie invented a new twist in typical murder-mystery conventions.
King’s Abbot is a small and quiet village, perfect for Hercule Poirot to retire to. Opening with the death of a Mrs Ferrars, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a double-murder story, documented by Dr James Sheppard, who functions as the narrator. Sheppard recalls how he first heard of Mrs Ferrars’ death, after which he goes to meet her fiancé, Roger Ackroyd who subsequently dies after his visit. Sheppard provides coverage of the investigation that unfolds when a certain moustachioed detective, Hercule Poirot, arrives. Will his signature intellectual acuity and logic be enough for Poirot to solve the case?
How did you feel about the big revelation at the end?
What did you think of Poirot’s ultimatum to James?
Did you pick up on the clues left by Christie as to the true murderer? What were they?
How does James manipulate the investigation to try and clear himself?
How does the murderer and their intentions compare to typical characters of this genre?
Do you think the class system plays a part in the novel?
If you re-read the novel would it still function in the same way? The-Murder-of-Roger-Ackroyd-Discussion-Questions.pdf
Although Agatha Christie was supposedly displeased when an ending was revealed in the media, we understand that you may not have managed to complete this work due to various circumstances. To prevent this from hindering you in any discussions, we will divulge the information, sadly against the late author’s wishes. Furthermore, we assume that the reading of this text henceforth is with the soul intent of finding out such information and not by mere accident.
Please be aware that this contains spoilers:
Hercule Poirot uses reason and deduction to exonerate those that were initially suspected of committing the crime, before turning his attention to who he believes the true culprit to be. Poirot builds a profile of the killer who he identifies as Dr Sheppard, Poirot’s assistant on the case and importantly the narrator of the novel. Poirot goes into detail about how Dr Sheppard blackmailed Mrs Ferrars leading to her suicide, he also proposes Dr Sheppard’s motive for murdering Ackroyd, suggesting that it was to protect his identity as the blackmailer, likely believing the suicide note of Mrs Ferrars had incriminated him. After the murder, Sheppard removed the suicide note from Ackroyd’s possession and used his dictaphone to make it appear as though Ackroyd was still alive upon his leaving the crime scene. Poirot also notes that Sheppard made sure to have a patient call him as to have a reason for returning so that he could interfere with the crime scene. Poirot warns that he will inform the police in the coming morning. Dr Sheppard goes on to complete his documentation of Poirot’s investigation (the novel ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’) with the epilogue functioning as his suicide note. Sheppard believes that Poirot will keep this a secret as to shield his sister from learning that her brother was in fact a killer.
The novel was voted the ‘Best Ever Novel’ by the Crime Writer’s Association in 2013.