Monday, February 1, 2016

January 2016 #OABookClub: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

So ends the first month of our new feature, #OABookClub, wherein we read a book together. In honor of our inaugural #PassorPages agent feedback contest, which was open to mystery/thriller writers, we chose The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.

Did you read it, too? If not, I would highly suggest doing so. It's considered one of Christie's best works. If you did, we'd love for you to join in the discussion. Either way, please note:


Read on to find out what our operatives thought of the book...


What a twisty ending! This is a classic whodunit where the person you suspect least ends up being the guilty party. The problem for me was that the person I suspected least wasn't even on my suspect list. I was quite thrown for a loop! I am proud of myself for guessing right on a few minor predictions, but as a whole I failed to keep up with M. Poirot.

Agatha Christie is a writer with wit and flair. She makes fun of human nature through characters who act precisely how you'd expect them to act, while slipping a few in under your nose who are merely acting. I very much enjoyed the writing style, the narrator's tone and personality, and the small town English setting. The drama of each person's secrets and open struggles plus the mystery of whodunit make this book quite the page-turner.

Find Katrina on Twitter here.


My love of all things Agatha Christie stems from my grandmother and her love of pocket-sized cozy mysteries. One summer, while visiting her, I explored her den and was amazed to find dozens of books stacked on top of each other in barely balanced piles.

"Can I read these?" It was a question I asked a lot at that age; I liked to borrow books from my parents' bookshelves, which sometimes got us all into trouble. But Agatha Christie was deemed safe, and my grandmother handpicked And Then There Were None for me to read.

My reading level might have been that of an adult, but I was 8. And Then There Were None terrified me. I stayed away from Agatha Christie and her psychological terrors for a long time. When I was finally ready to give Dame Agatha another chance, someone directed me to The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Interestingly, it was not my grandmother. Ackroyd is one of the few Agatha Christie novels she doesn't own.

I consider Ackroyd to be the pinnacle of the mystery genre, the king of the unreliable narrators. I never saw the ending coming. I know many people consider it to be a cheat, but I found it absolutely brilliant. If I had the power to erase memories, I'd erase that book so I could have the joy of reading it and being shocked yet again (I'd also delete the Harry Potter books so I could experience them for the first time again). I've now read most of Agatha Christie's mysteries (my grandmother gave her collection to me several years ago), and Ackroyd has always stood out as the best.

One caveat: Don't watch the TV version before you've read the book. The reveal is nowhere near as masterful.

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I have a confession to make: I already knew the ending before I started reading. I was doing research for one of my books, and I found it on a list of famous works with unreliable narrators.

Still, I had trouble detecting the truth about what was really happening because Christie buried it quite deeply. Instead of creating some elaborate lie over cover up the truth, the narrator glossed over what happened. If you're going to lie and get away with it, that's the way to do it--don't give too much information--but in analyzing it as a writing device, I was a bit disappointed.

I love the flamboyant Tyler Durden in Fight Club or the smooth-talking Verbal Kent in the movie The Usual Suspects or even the creepy, confusing Humbert Humbert in Lolita. My preference for unreliable narrators is to have them spin a yarn that sucks me in and spits me back out again when I realize it was a lie all along.

Find Samantha on Twitter here.

So what did you think? Chat with us in the comments below!

February's Operation Awesome Book of the Month

For this month, we're reading a book that's so burning hot right now, it's been made into a movie starring Matt Damon.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.
Join us! We'll be posting comments on Tuesday, March 1, so come back then and let us know what you thought.

Tweet: I'm reading THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie in January for @OpAwesome6's #OABookClub. Join me?Click to Tweet: I'm reading THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir in February for @OpAwesome6's #OABookClub. Join me?

And finally, before you go...

#LesMisRead2016 Update from Samantha

I got a little bit behind with my reading in Les Miserables when I got the stomach flu a week and a half ago, but I'm caught up again. I'm glad I've done it this way. Breaking it into bite-sized chunks (3.3 pages per day) is keeping me motivated.

The entirety of Part 1, Book 1 is a character sketch on Bishop Bienvenu, which as a writing device, is poorly done. When we finally meet our main character Jean Valjean in Part 1, Book 2, Chapter 1, no tension exists around what's going to happen to him once he gets pointed in the direction of the bishop. Hugo just spent seventy pages telling us how terribly, wondrously nice the bishop is, so all the worry for our main character deflates.

The writing itself, however, is moving. The scene where the bishop goes to comfort the dying man who plotted the overthrow of the king during the French Revolution is touching. Since we know that the bishop is a good man, seeing his conflict over how to treat this hated political dissident is interesting. And when the dying man's story finally comes out, I might have had tears in my eyes.

Check out my other impressions on the Twitter hashtag #LesMisRead2016. And if you want to read it this year with me, there's plenty of time to catch up.

Tweet: I'm reading LES MISERABLES in 2016 with @Saboviec. Join me? #LesMisRead2016
Click to Tweet: I'm reading LES MISERABLES in 2016 with @Saboviec. Join me? #LesMisRead2016

Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and don't forget--let us know what you thought of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in the comments!

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