Talk:The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

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Wikipedia mirrors[edit]

I found a similar text at http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/The-Murder-of-Roger-Ackroyd

is this gonna be an issue?

That is a site that copies wikipedia content, see Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks/Mno#Nationmaster. DES (talk) 21:05, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Spolier Warnings[edit]

Two major spoiler warnings -- excellent idea, particularly with this novel. If people still ignore them it's their own fault. Future contributors, please think twice before removing the second warning. --KF 08:40 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

12 Oct 2008: I (anonymous) was disgusted to read this article for the first time and observe that it did not contain a spoiler warning, despite all the discussion below. I added one. Someone else may like to edit it to be a standard Wikipedia spoiler warning, if such exists. Anyone who simply removes it and leaves it at that is an imbecile in the sense of the word used in the novel. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.170.15.130 (talk) 02:40, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Well count me as an imbecile then because I just deleted the change! Read Wikipedia:Spoiler and Wikipedia:Content Disclaimer please.--Jtomlin1uk (talk) 09:42, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

I've added how the book nearly got Agatha tossed out of the Detection Club. The book is probably the most controversal mystery fiction book of the 20th century, simply because Christie used an original plot device in the book to fool everybody. It certainly worked. I was fooled by it, but totally remember reading the last part and sucking in my breath when the final reveals took place. I realized I had just read the work of a genius.


A spoiler warning simply isn't enough in this case because it's too easy to read the murderer's identity inadvertently, and once known it won't be forgotten. So I modified the text to leave the resolution out. It simply shouldn't be left where it can too easily spoil the novel for a hapless reader. Vincent 05:22, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

good solution Bwithh 05:37, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree to some extent. With whodunit stories, merely one or two words identifying the killer can instantly unravel thousands of words of plot. As far as I can tell, other whodunit stories discussed on Wikipedia also delicately skirt around the exact identity of the killer. --Interiot 06:07, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

If we're not going to divulge the murderer's identity, then this warning:

"Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details about the murderer's identity follow."

is superfluous, and in fact is inaccurate. Frankly, any reader who sees that warning - in bold, italicized text at the top of the summary - and still reads the article has no complaint that he has seen the identity of the killer. In the edit I made that was just deleted (taking other relevant content with it), the identity of the killer required at least one PgDn.

In this particular case, I believe that the identity of the killer is critical to a discussion of the book, because the killer's identity was a major part of the resulting controversy, and because Christie's decision to make him the killer was a watershed moment in detective fiction. | Klaw Talk 04:06, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

As I said above, a spoiler warning isn't enough. I think the wiki guidelines state that wikipedia isn't a discussion forum and that we shouldn't use it to propose our own opinions or theories. It's sufficient to say that the book exists, that it's good, and that it's controversial. The spoiler is especially bad.
If anyone wants to discuss the book, they should read it first. If they want to read, then they should have it unspoilt. Vincent 08:28, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
(Repeating comments from Vincent's talk page.) I disagree with your comments on two grounds. One, mentioning the unreliable narrator doesn't give the ending away. It points out that the narrator isn't to be believed, but that doesn't mean that he's the killer. Two, more importantly, the article can't just be tailored to people who haven't read the book, but has to also consider people who have read the book and are looking for more information on it. I think the second group is a lot more significant, since it would be foolhardy to look up an article on a mystery novel one hasn't read, and by ignoring the critical literary element in the book, we're doing a major disservice to people who have read it and are looking for details.

Incidentally, your comment about proposing "our own opinions or theories" is irrelevant. There is no question over whether Christie used the unreliable narrator or not. | Klaw Talk 16:17, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Do you mean to tell me that this encyclopedia article acts so coy about revealing the killer because, despite the spoiler warnings, we're afraid of ruining the story? This is an encylopedia article, not a back blurb teaser for the book. We can't give full coverage of the novel without disclosing the identity of the killer. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is primarily notable because of who the killer is. And for that matter, discussing Bayard's theory, whether or not you like it (I don't), without explaining who he hypothesizes is the true killer (he thinks it's Shepard's sister), is equally absurd. Are you arguing that Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back shouldn't disclose the fact that Darth Vader is Luke's father? Ferret-aaron 17:44, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, due almost entirely to the objections of one user who ignored the spoiler warning when he read the article. I am in full agreement with you, aaron - the article is incomplete without a discussion of the killer's identity. | Klaw ¡digame! 17:58, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Most Agatha Christie book articles are incomplete then, because most seem to discuss as much about the books as possible, without actually revealing the killer's identity. --Interiot 19:06, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
I meant to say that in the case of this particular book, the killer's identity is critical to a complete discussion. This book has literary value beyond the mystery genre because of who the killer is. | Klaw ¡digame! 19:15, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Very good point. Okay, most mystery novel articles should be coy, but I agree that this one should be more forthright about the killer's identity. --Interiot 19:34, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I'm of the opinion that most mystery novel articles shouldn't be coy. This is, as I said, an encyclopedia, not a source of back blurb teasers. In order to be encyclopedic, we should not be stopping the plot resume before the end of the story, for any reason. Could we get rid of spoiler warnings altogether, I would support it, but I recognize that people coming from a search engine may not recognize that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and thus spoiler warnings are necessary. But despite this, WP is still an encyclopedia and we should not be withholding information because it might ruin the ending. Ferret-aaron 22:48, 14 December 2005 (UTC)


I don't understand why the article is skipping around the killer's identity in its present state. If you read the "controversy" paragraph, even though the solution isn't directly given to you, I think there are enough clues for the reader to figure out the big twist. So why be vague? Either don't tell a thing, or just be blunt about it.... which is what I would recommend since this is an encyclopedia, not a teaser for the book. Readers should be careful reading about fiction works on here if they don't want to be spoilt, *especially* as there's a spoiler warning, so they can't say they weren't warned. Right now it seems like the article can't really make up its mind, do we give the killer's identity or not? so it tries to make both sides happy, but that makes little sense. Big D -- 25 January 2006

I've restored the spoiler outright, as per Wikipedia:Content disclaimer, specifically Wikipedia contains spoilers. This is a reference work, not Amazon.com; the article should discuss the work in whole, ideally. The spoiler warning exists and is enough. If I am reading an encyclopedia article about a work, I expect it to be discussed completely, and especially so if that ending was considered controversial at the time. Girolamo Savonarola 11:29, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think that's the right way to go. On the other hand, I ignore many {{spoiler}} warnings, and would like to have an especially strong version for whodunit articles like this, along the lines of "Warning: This novel has surprising plot twists that are central to the story, and these plot twists are discussed in detail below. If you plan on reading the book in the future, you're strongly encouraged to skip this section". --Interiot 19:01, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I did not read all this discussion before I edited the Plot summary in September, having read many other Wikipedia articles on Christie's mystery novels, and being aware of Wikipedia's policy mentioned above in the post by Jtomlin1uk, against spoiler alerts. The policy has been made stronger since then, if anything WP:SPOILER Text included in the Plot summary, but really about the narrative voice or story structure are moved to their own sections. The subheading in the Plot summary section (added perhaps 5 years ago) is gone, and should stay gone. This made the Plot summary shorter, too. I hope editors can remain in agreement about the nature of Wikipedia articles on mystery novels, or any novel: the articles discuss the whole story, and all the interesting characters. --Prairieplant (talk) 12:53, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

More trivia[edit]

Isaac Asimov borrowed Christie's device in his science fiction/mystery novel THE CURRENTS OF SPACE. Although the guilty party does not narrate the story, part of it is narrated (third person) from his point of view without giving away his guilt -- which means that it does technically "follow the rules" CharlesTheBold 05:18, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Spoiler (2)[edit]

I noticed that the spoiler warning was removed and re-added and removed again... many times, in spite of the discussion above (it looks like the community decided to use the spoiler warning on this particular article). I tried to restore it... and I discovered that Template:Spoiler has been deleted... sorry, I didn't know the en.wiki policy about spoilers is different from the corresponding it.wiki policy. I apologize again! --KingFanel (talk) 13:38, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Original Research, Unreferenced Paraphrasings, or Synthesis of Published Material?[edit]

The Literary significance and reception section appears to have either original research, or several paragraphs in need of citation. I cannot determine which. I am specifically referring to the first bulleted section that reads as follows:

From: The most notable aspect of the book, which led to considerable controversy on its publication …

To: History has been much kinder to Christie, crediting her for an original idea …

This six-paragraph section is unreferenced, is the original research of another editor, or is the synthesis of works from several sources that may or may not have drawn the conclusion presented. The last of these cannot be determined without verifiable sources provided.

For now, I am going to insert inline templates where one needs to cite verifiable sources and hope that some can be found. — SpikeToronto (talk) 04:19, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Totally agree - especially as Janet Morgan (Christie's biographer) for one says that there was little fuss at the time and people got this confused with the later events of 1926 and Christie's disappearance. The biggest myth, quite often repeated, is that the book almost got Christie thrown out of the Detection Club - it wasn’t even founded in 1926!!!--Jtomlin1uk (talk) 07:48, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

You’ll notice that I’ve used the {{Reference necessary}} template, which results in entire paragraphs or sentences being highlighted. As the usage notes here and here indicate: In comparison with the {{Fact}} template, “[t]his template should be used when there are sentences of uncited text that should be cited. … [U]nlike the {{Fact}} template, this template may highlight more than one sentence of text to describe as needing a citation. Once a citation is added, please remove the template from the highlighted text.” [Emphasis added.] I only mention this in case anyone was wondering why there is highlighting[citation needed] in the text. As soon as these items can be referenced, the {{Reference necessary}} templates will be removed, one by one. — SpikeToronto (talk) 18:02, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

I have just removed all that stuff, which has been here a log time; it was obviously somebody's personal essay. If somebody wants to make that argument, they need to get the references first. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:34, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
David, the stuff may have been there for a long time, but the tags marking it as suspected original research -- which is Wikipedia's way of say "somebody's personal essay" -- only just went in yesterday. It seems to me that the well-intentioned edit eliminating everything -- in less than 24 hours after the tags went in -- violates WP's standards. Surely, the ticking of the clock begins anew when the tags and templates are added to the article; thus, giving editors time to track down the cites. I suspect that rather than being original research, the disputed material is either a synthesis of the work of others, or a paraphrase of the work of one author, perhaps either Bayard or Barnard. Additionally, it is irrelevant whether the reviews from different sources are similar; the point is to show a survey of the reviews from the various press sources. (Please see WP:Novels, I think.) The similarity of the reviews -- their "redundancy" -- just shows the consistency of the novel's reception. Finally, the section heading was changed contrary to the guildine given at the second bullet point at WP:MOSHEAD.
Recommendation: We ought to leave this section, with its new tags and templates, for at least a couple of weeks. Please see this guidance from another Administrator that I sought a little while back on the same issue where he suggests a similar wait time.
I must say, I appreciate David's zeal: Yesterday, I wanted to excise all the WP:OR stuff too and just leave the reviews -- as is standard in the Christie articles -- but remembered that I was instead supposed to insert the appropriate reference/citation tags and then give some time. Like David though, I'm itching to snip it all out.
For now, though, I would like to return that section to how it was before David's edit. But, I promise that if no one has provided the proper references for that "essay," within a reasonable time (please see first bullet point at WP:NOCITE), I will personally remove it. Thanks! — SpikeToronto (talk) 01:23, 15 August 2009 (UTC)


YesY DoneSpikeToronto (talk) 01:37, 15 August 2009 (UTC)


I propose the following edit when we've waited long enough:

Literary significance and reception

  • The Times Literary Supplement's review of June 10, 1926, began with "This is a well-written detective story of which the only criticism might perhaps be that there are too many curious incidents not really connected with the crime which have to be elucidated before the true criminal can be discovered". The review then gave a brief synopsis before concluding with "It is all very puzzling, but the great Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian detective, solves the mystery. It may safely be asserted that very few readers will do so".[1]

There are doubtless many detective stories more exciting and blood-curdling than The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but this reviewer has recently read very few which provide greater analytical stimulation. This story, though it is inferior to them at their best, is in the tradition of Poe's analytical tales and the Sherlock Holmes stories. The author does not devote her talents to the creation of thrills and shocks, but to the orderly solution of a single murder, conventional at that, instead.[2]

After setting up the setting and the basics of the plot, the review continued,

In conventional detective story style, seemingly trivial and extraneous details become clarifying evidence to him [Poirot] while they baffle the reader only the more. It is really Poirot's method which holds the reader's interest. Matters become more and more complicated, till one surprising fact after another begins to reveal itself. It would most certainly not be fair in the present case to reveal the outcome of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and it would consequently be pointless to give a detailed synopsis of it and tantalizingly stop at the denouement. Miss Christie is not only an expert technician and a remarkably good story-teller, but she knows, as well, just the right number of hints to offer as to the real murderer. In the present case his identity is made all the more baffling through the author's technical cleverness in selecting the part he is to play in the story; and yet her non-committal characterization of him makes it a perfectly fair procedure. The experienced reader will probably spot him, but it is safe to say that he will often have his doubts as the story unfolds itself.[2]

The review concluded: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd cannot be too highly praised for its clean-cut construction, its unusually plausible explanation at the end, and its ability to stimulate the analytical faculties of the reader. It soars far above the crude, standardized mystery stories which have become customary merchandise."[2]

No one is more adroit than Miss Christie in the manipulation of false clues and irrelevances and red herrings; and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd makes breathless reading from first to the unexpected last. It is unfortunate that in two important points — the nature of the solution and the use of the telephone — Miss Christie has been anticipated by another recent novel: the truth is that this particular field is getting so well ploughed that it is hard to find a virgin patch anywhere. But Miss Christie's story is distinguished from most of its class by its coherence, its reasonableness, and the fact that the characters live and move and have their being: the gossip-loving Caroline would be an acquisition to any novel.[3]

When in the last dozen pages of Miss Christie's detective novel, the answer comes to the question, "Who killed Roger Ackroyd?" the reader will feel that he has been fairly, or unfairly, sold up. Up till then he has been kept balancing in his mind from chapter to chapter the probabilities for or against the eight or nine persons at whom suspicion points. With each new development the design of the problem seems to shift, as with movement of a kaleidoscope; and we are kept guessing without coming much nearer to the solution, not withstanding that we have the privilege of perusing the notes of Dr Sheppard, the medical man who is on the spot almost immediately after the crime has been committed, and of listening to the conversations between him and M. Poiret [sic], that almost uncanny genius in tracking the guilty, with whom he seeks to play the part of Watson with Sherlock Holmes. Everybody in the story appears to have a secret of his or her own hidden up the sleeve, the production of which is imperative in fitting into place the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle; and in the end it turns out that the Doctor himself is responsible for the largest bit of reticence. The tale may be recommended as one of the cleverest and most original of its kind.[4]

  • Robert Barnard, in A Talent to Deceive: An appreciation of Agatha Christie, writes:

Apart — and it is an enormous "apart" — from the sensational solution, this is a fairly conventional Christie. The tone is light, at times almost "comedy of manners"; the setting is English village, with the emphasis on the big house; the characterization is standard, with the first and best of her strong-minded spinsters, noses a-quiver for scandal. A classic, but there are some better Christies.[5]

This removes all of the original research stuff leaving only reviews. And, this is consistent with the other articles on Christie's novels. — SpikeToronto (talk) 01:37, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Agree up to a point but I think we're leaving ourselves open to someone inputting the old "1926 controversy" stuff again. I'll start looking through my biographies and come up with some referenced material but write it from scratch, rather than try and amend what was there before.--Jtomlin1uk (talk) 17:44, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
It was a lot easier just to slash it all out! (But I support you're right ...) - DavidWBrooks (talk) 18:35, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, it’s been a week, so here goes … Tongue.pngSpikeToronto (talk) 21:37, 22 August 2009 (UTC)


YesY DoneSpikeToronto (talk) 21:43, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

References for this section

  1. ^ The Times Literary Supplement: 397
  2. ^ a b c The New York Times Book Review: 18
  3. ^ The Observer: 10
  4. ^ The Scotsman: 2
  5. ^ Barnard 1990: 199

Pierre Bayard: Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?[edit]

Recently, an anonymous editor added some information regarding Pierre Bayard’s book, Qui a tué Roger Ackroyd? (Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?) to this article. It was reverted, but then the reverting editor and I thought that perhaps it should be put back in, in a more appropriate section, and then, if there were objections, we could form consensus, one way or another, here on the talk page. — SpikeToronto (talk) 21:29, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

I removed it - to me it still reads like a high-falutin' version of fan fiction - but I suppose it shows that the book continues to hold interest and so is appropriate, so I won't remove it again. I think it's in the wrong section, I think, but I'm not sure where it should go.
This made me look at the review section again; holy toledo, it is WAY too long. I'm going to trim some of the over-long quotes of reviews if I can figure out where to move the Bayard oddity. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:16, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
What does way to long mean? Are there space limitations? I would have thought the more info, the better. One day, that informaton my no be available any place else but here, where we’ve preserved it.

As for the Bayard stuff, although I put it back in, I think I agree with your sentiments re: fan fiction, but also re: still holding interest. — SpikeToronto 20:21, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia can't be holding place for all the world's information - from that argument, why not quote the entire review, and every other review, too? The point of mentioning them is to give a good sense of the contemporary reaction, and (IMHO, of course) they are much longer than is necessary to do that.
And there are limitations in wikipedia - if not space, then time: the readers' time. If they have to wade through screens full of less useful material in order to see the useful bits, then the article has failed. Less can be more, brevity is the soul of wit, and all that! 330 words from a single NY Times review is, I would argue, excessive. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 21:18, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
I have tried some trims; let's see what people think. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:11, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, the trims are well chosen and help the article but do we have to have the formatting in block quotes? The reason I ask is that the page's look and feel is now markedly different compared to the other 80-odd Christie novel pages which I spent an awful lot of time standardising. I'd like to change it back while retaining the trims.--Jtomlin1uk (talk) 20:49, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Certainly not (that is, they certainly don't have to be in block quotes). Particularly if you have knowledge of other Christie novel pages, please standardize! And feel free to trim the quotes more; I think they're still way too long. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 21:17, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Originality of the novel[edit]

I have removed the following paragraph a couple times, as it is original research. It might be difficult to accept it, but in wikipedia, we need a source saying a reliable, independent source has actually reached that conclusion - not just the editor:

It should be added that it is difficult to accept that neither AC, her reviewers and critics, nor biographers were aware of Rufus Gillmore's "The Alster Case" published by D. Appleton & Co London & New York in 1914. Gillmore's story has a (crucial) misleading telephone call, a locked door behind which the victim is discovered dead in a chair, having been attacked from behind, a private detective who after some distractions discovers all, and a confession in the final chapter by the guilty one who is revealed by the detective to be the narrator of the story himself. AC's Roger A., written twelve years after Gillmore's story, is too similar to claim originality. <ref>The Alster Case,by Rufus Gillmore, electronic edition by Black Heath Editions 2016,Black Heath Classic Crime.

- DavidWBrooks (talk) 22:39, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

I support you fully, DavidWBrooks. That paragraph does not belong in this article, as the only citation is some other mystery novel. The reviewers of the time gave Christie full credit for her plot device, and those are included in the article. --Prairieplant (talk) 09:04, 8 September 2016 (UTC)

Characters' Names: Mrs Ferrars[edit]

I don't recall any reference to Mrs Ferrars' Christian name in the novel. On what basis is she ascribed the name Dorothy? Rithom (talk) 05:48, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

I believe that Roger Ackroyd says her first name early in the story, before he is killed. I do not have the book at hand to verify it. If you do, look in that portion of the novel. --Prairieplant (talk) 17:27, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
It's not mentioned anywhere in my edition. Can you give a chapter reference? I remember thinking how odd it was that Roger Ackroyd, who was effectively her fiancé, never mentioned her Christian name. Rithom (talk) 05:47, 3 February 2017 (UTC)