ABC Murders Book Summary

The ABC Murders is a thrilling detective novel written by Agatha Christie, one of the most renowned mystery authors of all time. First published in 1936, the book follows the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot …

ABC Murders Book Summary

The ABC Murders is a thrilling detective novel written by Agatha Christie, one of the most renowned mystery authors of all time. First published in 1936, the book follows the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a series of baffling murders.

The story begins with Poirot receiving a mysterious letter signed by someone who calls themselves “ABC.” The letter taunts Poirot, challenging him to solve a murder that has not yet been committed. Intrigued by the challenge, Poirot teams up with his loyal friend Captain Arthur Hastings and Scotland Yard’s Inspector Japp to catch the cunning killer.

As the murders unfold, Poirot discovers that the victims are being targeted in alphabetical order, according to their locations. With each murder, the killer leaves an ABC railway guide as a calling card, further taunting Poirot and the authorities. Poirot must use his exceptional deductive skills and keen attention to detail to unravel the complex web of clues and find the identity of the elusive ABC murderer before they strike again.

The ABC Murders is a gripping and suspenseful tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. Agatha Christie’s masterful storytelling, combined with her intricate plot twists and memorable characters, makes this novel a timeless classic in the genre of detective fiction.


The ABC is a serial killer in Agatha Christie’s novel “The ABC Murders.” The killer chooses his victims in alphabetical order and leaves an ABC railway guide at each crime scene, taunting the famous detective, Hercule Poirot.

The ABC begins his killing spree with Alice Ascher in Andover, followed by Betty Barnard in Bexhill, and so on. Poirot, along with his friend Arthur Hastings and the local police, must decipher the cryptic clues left by the killer to catch him before he completes his murderous alphabet.

The Motive

The motive behind the ABC’s killings is revealed later in the novel. It turns out that the killer is driven by a deep-rooted hatred for society and a desire to expose its flaws. The ABC believes that by committing these murders, he can expose the incompetence of the police and the flaws in the justice system.

The Investigation

ABC Murders Book Summary

Poirot, being an exceptional detective, uses his keen observation skills and logical thinking to analyze the evidence and identify patterns. He uncovers a connection between the victims and suspects, leading him closer to the identity of the killer.

Throughout the investigation, Poirot faces challenges and obstacles, including a red herring and a misdirection orchestrated by the killer. However, his persistence and sharp intellect ultimately lead him to the shocking truth behind the ABC murders.

The Murders

The ABC Murders is a crime novel by Agatha Christie, first published in 1936. The story follows Hercule Poirot, a famous detective, as he investigates a series of murders committed by an unknown serial killer who uses the alphabet to select his victims and taunt the police.

The first murder is that of Alice Ascher, a shopkeeper in Andover. She is found dead in her shop, with the letter “A” pinned to her clothing. Poirot is called in to investigate, and he quickly realizes that this is just the beginning of a carefully planned series of murders.

The killer continues their spree, targeting victims whose names begin with each successive letter of the alphabet. Poirot and the police are baffled by the seemingly random selection of victims and the lack of any apparent connection between them.

As the murders continue, Poirot begins to unravel the clues left behind by the killer. He discovers a pattern in the murders and suspects that the killer is intentionally trying to mislead the police by making them believe the murders are connected to Poirot’s past cases.

Poirot eventually deduces the identity of the killer and sets a trap to catch them. In a dramatic climax, the killer is revealed and their motives are exposed. Poirot’s keen observation skills and ability to see through the killer’s deception prove crucial in solving the case.

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The ABC Murders is a gripping and suspenseful mystery that keeps readers guessing until the very end. Agatha Christie’s masterful storytelling and intricate plot twists make this novel a classic in the detective genre.

Victim Letter
Alice Ascher A
Betty Barnard B
Carmichael Clarke C
Dorothy Davis D
Evelyn Hope E
Franklin Clarke F
George Earlsfield G
Hermione “Hermie” Henderson H
Iris Russell I
John Ascher J
Kimball K
Lily Marbury L
Mary Drower M
Nora Brent N
Olive Clayton O
Peter Carmody P
Quentin Q
Rose Marbury R
Sarah “Custard” Simpson S
Thomas Betterton T
Ursula Bourne U
Victor Clayton V
Winifred “Willie” Mabberley W

Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot is a fictional detective created by Agatha Christie. He is one of Christie’s most famous and enduring characters, known for his distinctive appearance and meticulous attention to detail.

Poirot is a Belgian detective who has retired from the police force and now works as a private detective. He is known for his small stature, egg-shaped head, and neatly groomed mustache. Poirot is also known for his intelligence and ability to solve complex mysteries through his methodical approach to investigation.

In “The ABC Murders,” Poirot is called upon to solve a series of murders committed by a serial killer who leaves an ABC railway guide at each crime scene. Poirot is initially skeptical of the killer’s pattern, but as the murders continue, he becomes determined to catch the culprit.

Poirot’s investigation leads him to suspect several individuals, including the novel’s narrator, Captain Arthur Hastings, and a mysterious stranger named Alexander Bonaparte Cust. Poirot carefully examines the evidence and interviews witnesses to uncover the truth behind the ABC murders.

Throughout the novel, Poirot’s character is portrayed as intelligent, methodical, and somewhat eccentric. He often relies on his “little grey cells” to solve cases and is known for his attention to detail. Poirot’s distinctive personality and detective skills make him a beloved character in the world of mystery fiction.

Characteristics of Hercule Poirot

  • Small stature
  • Egg-shaped head
  • Neatly groomed mustache
  • Intelligence
  • Methodical approach to investigation
  • Attention to detail
  • Reliance on his “little grey cells”
  • Eccentric personality


Hercule Poirot is a beloved detective character created by Agatha Christie. His distinctive appearance, intelligence, and attention to detail make him a memorable and enduring figure in mystery fiction. In “The ABC Murders,” Poirot’s skills are put to the test as he investigates a series of murders committed by a serial killer. Through his methodical approach, Poirot unravels the mystery and brings the culprit to justice.

The Investigation

ABC Murders Book Summary

The investigation into the ABC murders is led by Detective Hercule Poirot, a renowned Belgian detective. Poirot is known for his meticulous attention to detail and his ability to solve even the most complex cases.

As Poirot delves into the case, he begins to uncover a pattern in the murders. Each victim’s name starts with a different letter of the alphabet, and the murders are being committed in alphabetical order. Poirot realizes that he is dealing with a serial killer who is taunting him by leaving clues at each crime scene.

Poirot’s investigation takes him across England as he interviews witnesses and collects evidence. He is assisted by Captain Arthur Hastings, a close friend who serves as his sounding board throughout the investigation.

As the body count rises, Poirot becomes increasingly determined to catch the killer before they can strike again. He meticulously analyzes the clues left at each crime scene, using his keen intellect to piece together the puzzle.

Throughout the investigation, Poirot encounters a variety of suspects, each with their own motives and secrets. He must navigate a web of lies and deception to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice.

As Poirot gets closer to solving the case, the tension rises. The killer taunts him with letters, mocking his efforts to catch them. Poirot must stay one step ahead, using his intuition and deductive reasoning to outsmart the murderer.

In the end, Poirot successfully identifies the killer and reveals their identity to the authorities. The investigation comes to a close, but the impact of the ABC murders will linger on in Poirot’s mind.

The investigation into the ABC murders is a thrilling and suspenseful journey, showcasing Poirot’s brilliance and determination. Agatha Christie’s masterful storytelling keeps readers guessing until the very end.

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The Suspects

Hercule Poirot

The famous detective Hercule Poirot is at the center of the investigation. Known for his brilliant deductive skills, Poirot is determined to catch the murderer and bring justice to the victims. As he delves deeper into the case, he uncovers hidden connections and uncanny patterns that could lead him to the killer’s identity.


Cust is a mysterious and enigmatic character who becomes a prime suspect in the murders. With a troubled past and a seemingly unbreakable alibi, Cust’s guilt or innocence remains a puzzle that Poirot must solve.

Thora Grey

Thora Grey, the wife of one of the victims, is another suspect who captures Poirot’s attention. With her secretive behavior and possible motives, Poirot must dig deeper to uncover the truth behind her actions.

Franklin Clarke

Franklin Clarke, a family friend of one of the victims, also falls under suspicion. As Poirot investigates his past and his connection to the murders, he must unravel the complex web of lies and deceit surrounding Clarke.

With each suspect presenting their own set of clues and red herrings, Poirot must use his keen intellect and intuition to separate fact from fiction and uncover the true identity of the ABC killer.

The Twist

The twist in “The ABC Murders” is one of the most shocking and unexpected moments in the story. Throughout the book, the reader follows the investigation led by Hercule Poirot as he tries to uncover the identity of the serial killer who is targeting victims in alphabetical order.

As the story progresses, Poirot becomes convinced that the killer is someone who is playing a game with him, taunting him with letters and clues. He believes that the killer is trying to prove his superior intellect and outwit Poirot at every turn.

However, just when the reader thinks they have figured out the identity of the killer, Agatha Christie delivers a brilliant twist. It is revealed that the killer is not who Poirot, or the reader, expected. The twist completely turns the investigation on its head and leaves Poirot and the reader stunned.

Without giving too much away, the twist not only reveals the true identity of the killer but also their motive and the reasoning behind the alphabetical order of the victims. It is a clever and unexpected turn of events that showcases Christie’s skill as a master storyteller.

The twist in “The ABC Murders” is a testament to Agatha Christie’s ability to keep her readers guessing until the very end. It is a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to a captivating mystery that will leave readers eager to dive into more of her works.

The Resolution

The resolution of “The ABC Murders” is a thrilling climax that reveals the true identity of the serial killer. After a series of intense investigations and false leads, detective Hercule Poirot finally uncovers the shocking truth.

In a dramatic confrontation, Poirot gathers all the suspects together and presents his evidence. He reveals that the killer is actually Alexander Bonaparte Cust, a seemingly innocent man who has been manipulated by the true mastermind behind the murders.

Throughout the book, Cust had been presented as a mentally challenged man, incapable of committing such heinous crimes. However, Poirot’s astute observations and meticulous analysis lead him to unravel the truth.

The resolution showcases Poirot’s brilliant deductive skills and his ability to see through the deception and misdirection.

As the truth is revealed, Cust’s motives become clear. He had been coerced into committing the murders by a vengeful individual seeking revenge against society.

Poirot’s revelation not only brings the killer to justice but also serves as a reminder of the complexity of human nature and the consequences of manipulation and revenge.

The resolution of “The ABC Murders” leaves readers on the edge of their seats, eager to see how Poirot will bring the case to its final conclusion.

The Themes

The ABC Murders explores several important themes throughout the book. These themes include:

1. Identity and Appearance

2. Justice and Punishment

Another theme explored in the book is the concept of justice and punishment. As Poirot investigates the murders, he is driven by a desire to bring the killer to justice and ensure that they are punished for their crimes. This theme raises questions about the nature of justice and the appropriate punishment for different crimes.

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Throughout the book, Christie also examines the idea of vigilante justice and whether it is ever justified. The character of ABC believes that he is acting as a vigilante, punishing those he deems deserving of punishment. This raises ethical questions about the role of individuals in seeking justice outside of the legal system.

3. Time and Aging

The passage of time and the effects of aging are also important themes in The ABC Murders. Poirot, who is getting older, reflects on his own mortality and the changes that come with age. This theme is further explored through the character of Alexander Bonaparte Cust, who is described as a “time bomb” due to his deteriorating mental state.

The theme of time is also significant in the structure of the novel, as the murders are carried out in alphabetical order, suggesting a countdown or progression of time. This adds a sense of urgency and tension to the story as Poirot races against time to catch the killer.

Overall, The ABC Murders delves into these themes in a thought-provoking and suspenseful manner, making it a compelling read for fans of crime fiction.

The Legacy

The legacy of “The ABC Murders” extends beyond its status as a classic crime novel. Agatha Christie’s masterful storytelling and intricate plotting have left a lasting impact on the genre, influencing countless authors and captivating readers for generations.

One of the most notable aspects of the novel’s legacy is its unique narrative structure. “The ABC Murders” is told from the perspective of Captain Arthur Hastings, a close friend of Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot. This choice allows readers to experience the investigation through the eyes of an outsider, adding an extra layer of intrigue and suspense.

Influence on Crime Fiction

Agatha Christie’s innovative approach to detective fiction in “The ABC Murders” has had a profound influence on the genre. Her use of misdirection and red herrings, as well as her skillful manipulation of suspense and tension, set a new standard for crime novels. Many authors since then have sought to emulate her style and create their own compelling mysteries.

Furthermore, Christie’s character development in “The ABC Murders” is exemplary. Hercule Poirot’s idiosyncrasies and brilliant deductive reasoning have made him one of the most beloved and iconic detectives in literature. Poirot’s legacy lives on in countless fictional detectives who strive to match his intelligence and wit.

Continued Popularity

Despite being published over 90 years ago, “The ABC Murders” continues to captivate readers and maintain its popularity. The novel’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its timeless themes of justice, morality, and the complexity of human nature. Christie’s ability to craft a compelling mystery that keeps readers guessing until the very end is a testament to her skill as a storyteller.

Additionally, the legacy of “The ABC Murders” has been further solidified through various adaptations in film, television, and stage. These adaptations have introduced new audiences to the world of Agatha Christie and ensured that her work remains relevant and celebrated.

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