The ABC Murders

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1936

The ABC Murders is a surprising novel tackling the modern figure of the serial killer and the psychology behind it.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet - and the whole country is in a state of panic. A is for Mrs Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident – but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal mistake.

Words, mademoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas.

Hercule Poirot, The ABC Murders

More about this story

Following in the footsteps of one of her favourite authors, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie used this story to experiment with point of view, switching between first and third person narration. Its ingenious plot has been cited in several other publications, including Michael Innes’ 1945 novel, Appleby’s End and the manga Detective Conan.

An entirely original idea.
The Daily Telegraph

The novel was used as the basis of a comedy, The Alphabet Murders, starring Tony Randall as Poirot in 1965. In 1992 it was adapted as part of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet, and this time it stayed much more faithful to the original story. BBC Radio 4 dramatised the story in 2004 featuring John Moffat as Poirot. Later the same year the Japanese manga adaptation of the story was released, accompanied by its animé version which aired on NHK. A Malayan film titled Grandmaster was produced in 2012 which, despite suggesting it was inspired by the story, bears little resemblance to the original. It was adapted in 2018, with John Malkovich starring as the famous Belgian detective.

Did you know?

  1. The ABC Murders is one of the earliest examples of the ‘serial killer’ idea which is now seen frequently in books and on screen. In fact, when Agatha Christie wrote this story, the phrase ‘serial killer’ didn’t even exist.

  2. In 2009 the story was adapted for the first Agatha Christie based Nintendo DS game which allowed players to take on the role of Hastings.

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