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The ABC Murders

Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
Series: Hercule Poirot, Book 13
Length: 6 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.
©1936 Agatha Christie Limited (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London UK

Critic Reviews

"There is no more cunning player of the murder game than Agatha Christie" (Sunday Times)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for kat
  • kat
  • 04-10-13

Great book for Agatha Christie lovers

Agatha Christie is great in telling murder mystery stories and this is another great book of hers. Interesting plot, great twists, building up suspense and Poirot being brilliant once more. It feels like you can't put the book down. Hugh Fraser is a fantastic narrator! He can put just in the atmosphere of the book and he does a great job representing all the characters, especially Poirot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tania Rice
  • 12-21-18

Wow 😮

This is an INCREDIBLE book, it kept me on my toes throughout- Agatha Christie has done it again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • FictionFan
  • 03-28-17

A great narration of a true classic...

Any additional comments?

When Captain Hastings comes back on a trip to London from his new home in the Argentine, he hastens round to visit his old friend, Hercule Poirot. After they've done a bit of catching up, Poirot shows Hastings a bizarre letter he has received, warning that a crime will be committed on a certain date in Andover. When the day comes, so does news of a murder – Alice Ascher, the owner of a small newsagents, has been found dead, with a copy of the ABC railway guide lying beside her body. Poirot and Hastings head to Andover, and soon find that Mrs Ascher's drunken husband had every reason to want her dead, and would surely be arrested for the crime were it not for the strange coincidence of the letter. Some weeks pass before Poirot receives a second letter, this time warning of a murder to take place in Bexhill and, sure enough, a body turns up on the due date, along with another copy of the ABC. Poirot is already suspicious that this murderer is working to an alphabetical plan; a suspicion that is confirmed when the third letter speaks of Churston...

This is a rather typical Agatha Christie story – typically brilliant, that is. It has everything that makes her books such a joy: intriguing clues, plenty of suspects all with strong motives, lots of red herrings and misdirection, and, of course, the hugely entertaining interplay between Poirot and Hastings. It is narrated by Hastings, partly in the first person for the sections where he was present himself, and the rest in the third person, which he tells us he reconstructed from accounts from Poirot and other people.

There are possible suspects for each of the crimes – relatives, lovers and so on – but Poirot must find the link that connects them all. Chief Inspector Japp is always happy to have help from his little Belgian friend, and some of the suspects get together to offer their assistance too, so that they can have justice for the dead and also get out from under the cloud of suspicion that is hovering over them.

People sometimes sneer at Christie for working to a “formula” but I say, if a formula works so well, then why not? There are some things in this one that I feel are standard Christie, and they add as much to the enjoyment here as they do in so many of her other books. Her victims are carefully chosen so that we hope for justice for them, while not having to go through too much of the angst of grief. Poirot and Hastings spend much of their time interviewing people until Poirot's little grey cells give him the solution, which he then reveals at a get-together of all the suspects. The tone is lightened by the warmth of Hastings' narration – his occasional humour at Poirot's expense never hiding the warm regard he feels for his friend. And although Poirot is obviously more intelligent than Inspector Japp, the police are never shown as bumbling incompetents. There is a general respect in the books that makes Christie's world a pleasure to visit, and despite the similarities in tone and structure, the plots are different and original enough to make each book feel unique.

The plot of this one is beautifully complex and elegantly simple at the same time – a true Christie trait – so that when the solution finally comes, it seems both fiendishly clever and satisfyingly obvious. This is a major part of Christie's success, I think – her “twists” are an untangling of a complicated knot, rather than the sudden introduction of some new layer of hitherto unsuspected silliness, as with so much contemporary crime. Her denouements don't so much make one gasp with stunned disbelief as nod with satisfaction at the logical working out, and grin with pleasure at her cleverness in first hiding and then revealing her clues.

I listened to the Audible version of this, narrated by Hugh Fraser, whom Christie fans will recognise as the actor who played Hastings to David Suchet's Poirot in the long-running ITV series. Fraser does a marvellous job – he captures the tone of the books perfectly, bringing out the humour and the warmth of the friendship between Poirot and Hastings. He has a lovely speaking voice and, though he doesn't “act” all the parts, he differentiates enough between the characters so that it's easy to follow who's speaking. Obviously, when he's reading Hastings' dialogue, he sounds just like Hastings. But remarkably, when Poirot is speaking, he sounds just like Suchet's Poirot! I guess Fraser must have spent long enough listening to Suchet do it that he has mastered a faultless impersonation. It gives the narration a wonderful familiarity for fans of the TV adaptations.

So to conclude, one of Christie's finest, enhanced by a fabulous narration – I promptly shot off back to Audible and used up all my spare credits on getting as many of Fraser's Poirot readings as I could, and happily he has done loads of them. My highest recommendation for both book and reading – perfect entertainment!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 05-31-19

Stylish murder mystery which doesn't disappoint!

A fiendish murderer toying with esteem detective Hercule Poirot. The murderer is sending teasing letters of possible about be happen murders of people who’s names correspond with the town they are murdered within, all found with a copy of the railway ABC book next to them. Poirot finds he must use all his formidable ‘little grey cells’ to uncover the correct killer before they strike again!

For anyone who loves a twisty murder mystery with its tradition array of ‘red herrings’. All completely lovely to be immersed within this traditional murder mystery book with the added benefit of being read by Hugh Fraser AKA Arthur Hastings within the ITV series.

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  • Pat
  • 04-22-19

Great story

Great story. Brilliant performance by Hugh Fraser as always.

Minor complaint - PLEASE change the picture - this one is from the Tv programme which bore very little similarity to the book as read here. Back to the old picture please.

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  • Claire Gibson
  • 02-09-19

Interesting listen

Full of plot and suspense, well read. Quite a heavy listen as there is a lot going on but a interesting story. Tried to read the book when I was in my teens and found it hard work so thought I’d give listening to it a chance. Worth listening too and got quite into it half way through and was looking forward to the reveal of the killer. Give this book a chance.

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  • Mrs. E. D'agostino
  • 01-05-19

Original and Best

Hércule won't replace Sherlock in my affections but I enjoyed this way more than the recent Amazon /BBC adaptation, worth going back to the source. I enjoyed the narration.

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  • Grete Buck
  • 12-28-18

Audio followed by TV adaptation - perfect!

My first ever Agatha Christie novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it! listened in anticipation of the Xmas dramatization which is very different in detail but not in substanceThoroughly enjoyed both!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-22-18

fantastic read

fantastic,
for anyone wanting an extremely satifying read, i would strongly recommend. Christie does an amazing job of tying you in with suspense and frustration at who the killer may or may not be and then right at the end, a resolution. Fraser also does an amazing job of narrating the story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-02-18

The perfect whodunnit

Others - many - may rate The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or And Then There Were None as Agatha Christie’s finest novels but this for me is her at her sharpest and keenest - and also funniest - best. Perfect, and perfectly narrated by Hugh Fraser, who brings a light but sure touch to the adaptation.

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  • Lily Davison
  • 11-19-16

Fantastic!

One of Christie's best novels. A fantastic take on the serial killer style and narrated wonderfully by Hugh Fraser. Fraser manages to maintain Hastings persona with still embodying the Belgian detective we all know and love. A thoroughly enjoyable book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful