Christie, Agatha: The ABC Murders
In terms of sales, Agatha Christie is led only by the Bible (with the advantage of Divine Intervention) and Shakespeare (with the advantage of 400 years). More to the point, she has written more books that might individually have made her name than any other author, living or dead. I just reread one such: The ABC Murders. Others are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder in the Calais Coach, And Then There Were None, Witness for the Prosecution, Three Blind Mice, and Curtain (to provide an even half dozen). Each showcases a twist that could be used just once—and Christie appears to have cornered the market on such twists. In ABC, the first victim is Alice Ascher of Andover, followed by Betty Barnard of Bexhill, followed by Carmichael Clarke of Churston—and then an apparent error: the dead person’s name begins with an E though he’s killed in Doncaster. Outlandish as it may sound, there is order and method to this apparent madness. Reading Christie is like threading a maze. The solution lies transparently before the perspicacious reader, but rare is the reader as perspicacious as Christie.