It had been a long time since I had read a detective novel. Reading Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders made me remember how fun it was to read them. I used to enjoy detective novels quite a lot in elementary school (my friends and I both liked Arsène Lupin). This was actually my first time reading Agatha Christie. I think I picked up this one at a library sale a long time ago. I wish I had bought more books by her. It was a good story, and I liked the character of Poirot. I was rather (unnecessarily) proud at the fact that I understood all the little French phrases he said. Interestingly, most of the chapters are narrated from the point of view of Hastings, a friend of Poirot and a minor character. I read on Wikipedia that this was part of Agatha Christie’s intentional play with POVs in her novels.
As for the story itself, at first I thought it was quite ordinary, but it was written in a way that just had me keep reading. Then, patiently, I read until the penultimate chapter “Poirot Explains” and all the lingering doubts were finally cleared. The murders have been a completely different crime, all along, than the one in which the reader had no doubt been persuaded to believe. The style of the murder sort of reminded me of the ones in Detective Conan. It was a murder seemingly mysterious and unsolvable at first, but when everything is explained, all there remains is a clever murderer with a motive that is very common (like money, vengeance, etc.)—a fairly logical case. Logical, of course, only after the explanation!
And, I must say that I very much enjoyed the writing style of the novel. For some reason, I thought Agatha Christie was Canadian (?!), so I was surprised that the novel was set in England. But I soon found out that indeed she was British. In fact, she was born in Torquay, which I believe, is where A.B.C. lives in the novel. Anyway, I particularly liked the word choice, the conversations, as well as learning, occasionally, some British proverbs with M. Poirot.
Now, my favorite quotation of M. Poirot:
Yes. But there, at the very start, I made a grave error. I permitted my feeling—my very strong feeling about the letter to remain a mere impression. I treated it as though it had been an intuition. In a well-balanced, reasoning mind there is no such thing as an intuition—an inspired guess! You can guess, of course—and a guess is either right or wrong. If it is right you call it an intuition. If it is wrong you usually do not speak of it again. But what is often called an intuition is really an impression based on logical deduction or experience. When an expert feels that there is something wrong about a picture or a piece of furniture or the signature on a cheque he is really basing that feeling on a host of small signs and details. He has no need to go into them minutely—his experience obviates that—the net result is the definite impression that something is wrong. But it is not a guess, it is an impression based on experience.
This is actually close to my own philosophical view on “intuition”. I even wrote a whole essay on it for a class. It is nice to see that the great Belgian detective is of the same opinion on this issue 🙂