The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Table of Contents
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Characters
- Hercule Poirot– He was a famous Belgian detective, retired to King’s Abbot to grow vegetable marrows.
- Roger Ackroyd– He is country gentleman, distressed about the death of his paramour.
- Cecil Ackroyd– She is Mr. Ackroyd’s widowed sister-in-law
- Flora Ackroyd– She is Mr. Ackroyd’s niece and Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd’s daughter.
- Ralph Paton– Ralph is Mr. Ackroyd’s stepson, referred as his adopted son.
- Ursula Bourne– Ursula is Mr. Ackroyd’s parlourmaid, who quit recently.
- Major Hector Blunt– He is Roger Ackroyd’s friend and houseguest.
- Geoffrey Raymond– Mr. Ackroyd’s secretary
- John Parker– Mr. Ackroyd’s butler.
- Elizabeth Russell– Mr. Ackroyd’s housekeeper
- Charles Kent– Miss Russell’s son and drug addict
- James Sheppard– a doctor, narrator of this story and the protagonist
- Caroline Sheppard– Dr. Sheppard’s spinster sister
- Ferrars– a lady in the village who commits suicide at the beginning of the novel.
- Ashley Ferrars– Late husband of Mrs. Ferrars, suspected of being poisoned by his wife.
- Hammond– Roger Ackroyd’s lawyer
- Inspector Raglan
- Inspector Davis
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Summary
The novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, is narrated to us by Dr. James Sheppard, a doctor in the small village of King’s Abbott. The story starts with the death of Mrs. Ferrars, who overdosed on Veronal, a sleeping medication. The entire village (including Dr. Sheppard’s gossip mongering sister, Caroline) believes Mrs. Ferrars killed her own husband a year before by poisoning him. Mrs. Ferrars, according to Caroline, committed suicide with over dosage of Veronal because of her overpowering sense of guilt and remorse.
Meanwhile, Roger Ackroyd, the richest and the powerful man in King’s Abbot who had a relationship with Mrs. Ferrars and was supposed to marry her, invites Dr. Sheppard to dinner and informs that he has got something important to disclose him which is a matter of great importance. All the characters in the novel are almost present in the dinner – Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, Roger’s sister-in-law, Flora Ackroyd, his niece (who was recently engaged to Ackroyd’s stepson Ralph Paton). Geoffrey Raymond, Ackroyd’s young secretary, and Ackroyd’s friend, Hector Blunt. After dinner Akroyd pulled Doctor Sheppard into his study to have a private conversation with him. In his study, Ackroyd tells Doctor Shepard that Mrs Ferrars was blackmailed by someone because that person knew that she killed her husband. Before committing suicide she revealed everything to Roger because it was becoming unbearable for her to live with both psychological and financial pressures.
Although she didn’t tell him the blackmailer’s name but Ackroyd sensed that she left a message for him before her death. At that moment, Ackroyd’s secretary Parker arrives with a letter from the late Mrs Ferrars. Ackroyd starts reading it aloud. In it Mrs. Ferrars announces she will reveal her blackmailer’s identity and asks Ackroyd to avenge her blackmailer Ackroyd refuses to read the name of the blackmailer in front of Sheppard.
Dr. Sheppard leaves Fernly Park (Ackroyd’s home), but on his way back meets a stranger who wants to know the direction to Fernley Park. At home when Dr. Sheppard and Caroline are about to go to bed, the phone rings. He explains to Caroline that Parker has called from Fernly Park to tell him that Ackroyd has been murdered. Dr. Sheppard leaves immediately, but when he gets there Parker says that he has not made any phone call. Nonetheless, they break into Ackroyd’s study and find him murdered in his chair.
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Analysis
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie as a Detective Novel
The next day, Flora Ackroyd visits Dr Sheppard to help her to recruit Dr. Sheppard’s new neighbor, the retired Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, to help to investigate the murder. Flora is worried and sure that the police is going to victimize Ralph Paton for killing her uncle, especially because Ralph had been seen approaching Fernly Park that night and is now nowhere to be seen. The police also have found footprints that matches with a pair of shoes that Ralph had outside the window of Ackroyd’s study, and at 9:30 pm, both Major Blunt and Geoffrey Raymond overheard Ackroyd speaking to someone in his study. Since Flora says that she has wished her uncle goodnight at 9:45 pm and Dr. Sheppard is also of the opinion that Ackroyd had been dead at least a half an hour before when he found the body at 10:30, the police are convinced that the murder was committed between 9:45 and 10:00 pm. Although all members of Ackroyd’s household stood to gain financially from his death, Ralph especially inherited the bulk of his uncle’s fortune. After they have determined that Ralph recently was in a great deal of debt, they suspected him all the more.
Although the police is absolutely sure of Ralph being the murderer, Poirot is not convinced with the conclusion. He is more concerned with the phone call to Dr. Sheppard and the position of the chair in Ackroyd’s office, which had been repositioned into the center of the room when Dr. Sheppard and Parker found the body. During the process of his investigation, Poirot discovers a goose quill and a piece of cambric in the summerhouse on the Fernly Park grounds, as well as a wedding ring inscribed “From R” in a goldfish pond on the ground.
Poirot calls Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, Flora Ackroyd, Geoffrey Raymond, Major Blunt, and Dr. Sheppard together and accuses each and every one of hiding something from him which is relevant to the case. In the meantime, Poirot notes that the parlormaid, Ursula Bourne, is the only person in the household who doesn’t have a proper alibi and so considers her as another suspect. Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd and Geoffrey Raymond immediately come to Dr. Sheppard and Poirot to admit their secrets – both separately acknowledge the fact that they are in debt, and Ackroyd’s death resolves most of their money issues.
Poirot is also sure that Parker, whom he suspected as Mrs. Ferrars blackmailer, cannot be the blackmailer. Parker successfully blackmailed his previous employer, and was hoping to blackmail Ackroyd as well. The police meanwhile, have come to know about the stranger who approached Fernley Park the night of the murder. They arrest a man named Charles Kent, whom Dr. Sheppard identifies. Meanwhile, Poirot understands that Flora lied about wishing her uncle goodnight at 9:45 on the night of the murder instead, she had snuck up to his bedroom to steal money to settle some debts her own, and had to pretend she was merely wishing Ackroyd goodnight to avoid suspension in the course of her confession, Major Blunt’s secret love for Flora is revealed when he tries to take the blame for her crime. Poirot convinces Major Blunt to be honest with Flora about his love for her – he assures him that Flora and Ralph Paton are not really in love, but merely engaged for convenience’s sake.
Poirot wants to meet Miss Russell, Ackroyd’s housekeeper. He gets her to admit that Charles Kent was her son and that the goose quill belongs to Charles that they found in the summerhouse. She claims that her son cannot be the murderer. After placing a fake notice in the newspaper that the police captured Ralph Paton, Bourne goes to Poirot and confesses that she married Ralph secretly. They met around 9:30 in the summerhouse and fought about his announced engagement to Flora Ackroyd.
Poirot calls all the suspects to his home for the second time and reveals all his discoveries. He further states that Ackroyd bought a dictaphone the week before and that is something Raymond and Blunt overheard when they concluded Ackroyd was talking to someone at 9:30. He then brings Ralph Paton in front of everyone, who had been hidden by Dr. Sheppard with the pretention that he was a patient in a local asylum. Once Poirot was absolutely certain what Sheppard had done, he got Ralph out. Ralph admits that he had a fight with Ursula in the summerhouse. He is devoid of an alibi for the time of the murder. Poirot announces that it is simple to exonerate Ralph and it is time that the real murderer must come forward. He also claims that he is well aware of the identity of the real murderer, and says he will disclose the truth to the police the next morning.
Piorot asks everyone to leave except Dr. Sheppard. In an unbelievable twist in the plot, Poirot reveals the truth and claims Dr. Sheppard to be the murderer. According to Poirot Sheppard stabbed Ackroyd before leaving Ackroyd’s study that night. The Dictaphone was programmed in such a way that it would start to play Ackroyd’s voice at 9:30 and provided him with a much needed alibi, then he went to the side of the house and somehow came back into Ackroyd’s study to lock it from inside. He even went on to planting the footprints with Ralph’s shoes in the mud. He hid Ralph so that everyone would be suspicious of Ralph. He murdered Ackroyd because it was hic Sheppard, who was Mrs. Ferrars’ blackmailer, and it was inevitable the Ferrars has mentioned his name to Ackroyd in the letter that she gave before her death. Under the fearful contention that Poirot would reveal the truth to the police in the morning and people would come to know the real nature of the doctor, and with the belief that Poirot would hide the truth from his sister Caroline, Dr. Sheppard committed suicide with an overdose of Veronal.
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