When I mention the name Hercule Poirot to you, what names and stories come to mind? Obviously Dame Agatha Christie comes to mine as his creator alongside David Suchet from the excellent ITV adaptations. When it comes to stories though I find the same three tend to recur most often. Murder on the Orient Express, Death On The Nile and the one I will be reviewing today, The ABC Murders.
Much like the Holmes stories that preceded them, the Poirot stories helped codify the popularity of the mystery genre and ensured that nosy detectives would be poking their heads into other people’s business for a long time to come. In fact even the Belgian detective with his ‘little grey cells’ is still running around thanks to some modern stories licensed from the Christie estate.
The ABC Murders itself starts relatively simply. Captain Hastings the long time friend of the Belgian detective has come back to England after some ventures in South America. While the two are catching up Poirot mentions what seem to be some form of crank letter except something bothers him about it. When the appointed day forewarned in the letter arrives the crime has indeed been committed.
This leads to a chase to catch the killer with some slightly unusual help!
The story is rightfully considered a classic. Hastings is on fine form while the police force and the aforementioned unusual help makes a nice change of pace from the usual Poirot tale. Poirot himself is for once not firing on all cylinders but if anything that adds to the story. I’m also personally quite a fan of the various different ‘red herrings’ that appear throughout the book!
Now to discuss the audio! The audiobook is narrated by Hugh Fraser – Hastings from the ITV adaptations – and he does an excellent job. His voice is perfect for that traditional public school upperclass English feel that tends to permeate Agatha’s murder mysteries. He also is very adept at voicing everyone be it a very accurate take on Suchet’s Poirot, a very working class neighbour of the first victim or an irritatingly superior policeman working alongside Poirot on the case. Anyone and everyone is performed admirably. There’s a reason they got him to do the narration on the majority of the audiobooks even in those cases when Hastings himself isn’t a character in the story!
It’s no easy feat to feel yourself being drawn into the story and getting invested in what happens when you already know the answer to the mystery but this audiobook – as well as the other Poirot stories I happen to own – manage this easily. Just who killed Mrs Ascher, why did they do it and when will Poirot manage to catch the mysterious and disturbing ABC?
I highly recommend giving the original books a try. There’s a reason that Agatha Christie is acknowledged as the world’s best selling novelist after all! In fact she’s only behind The Bible and Shakespeare. Even if you’ve seen the TV adaptations a million times the books – and by association audiobooks – are the originals and it’s definitely worth it to let Poirot, Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp take you along as they attempt to solve the classic whodunnit that is The ABC Murders.