Do you love detective stories and murder mysteries? Then you’ll love The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. People looking to learn how to improve problem solving skills will love books like this one.The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
In fact, complex problem solving is at the top of the 10 employability skills list for 2020. The skills needed to thrive in the future.
Therefore, honing your problem solving skills makes sense. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and other mysteries provide fun problem solving activities to keep you busy.
Have you read?
Update: First published in February 2011
Initial Thoughts on The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
A well-written murder mystery is the perfect way to learn problem solving skills and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie delivers. First published in 1926, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a part of the Hercule Poirot mystery series. I love murder mysteries, thrillers and dramas and am pretty good at foreshadowing, but I didn’t see the end of this story coming.
After I finished reading the book, I realized that the end made perfect sense and the clues were right there, but I didn’t ask enough questions and I let my feelings get in the way of good judgement. The private detective Hercule Poirot’s personality drove me nuts, and he reminded me of Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo, who I didn’t like as well. This dislike of Hercule Poirot prevented me from closely looking at the clues and evidence. There were a few times when I raised my brows while reading, but I let it go because the information appeared insignificant.
What is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie About?
Poirot wasn’t much of a team player, and held a lot of information close to his chest. And in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, though he appears to be working closely with the other main character Dr. James Sheppard, he leaves him in the dark as well. He makes many requests to Dr Sheppard without explaining why. I should have asked myself why did he do that? Good problem solvers ask a lot of questions.
In the story, Mrs Ferrars poisons her husband, who wasn’t a very nice man. Most would agree that the husband wasn’t very nice, but they didn’t know that he was actually poisoned (murdered). Someone discovers her secret and decides to blackmail her.
After paying the blackmailer a considerable sum of £20,000 in a year, feeling overwhelmed and remorse for causing her husband’s death, she takes her own life.
Roger Ackroyd and Mrs Ferrars fell in love after the death of her husband, and he intended to marry her. She decides to confess her sin about her husband’s death to let him know that she is also being blackmailed. Ackroyd is very shocked by her news.
At the time of the revelation, she refuses to give him the name of her blackmailer. She promises to disclose that piece of information at a later date. She mails her suicide note to Ackroyd, and it includes the name of the blackmailer because she wants him to deal with the person responsible.
But Ackroyd is killed shortly after he receive the letter. It is not clear if he actually read the letter. Poirot’s hypothesis is that the blackmailer and Ackroyd’s murderer is the same person. Of all the characters in the book, which one would likely know about poisons, and would be able to detect it?
Also, someone calls Dr. Sheppard to report the Roger Ackroyd’s murder. When the police investigate, they discover that the call was made from a pay phone? Why, and is that important to solving the mystery?
Problem: Someone murdered Roger Ackroyd and we need to find out who.
How: He was stabbed with his own souvenir dagger.
Question: Who had access and what is the motive?
Caution: DNA testing wasn’t available then.
Basic Problem Solving Model/4-Step Problem Solving Model
- Preparation (Research)
- Incubation (Lay the issue aside for a period of time)
- Illumination (The moment when the new solution emerges)
- Verification/Implementation (Test out the solution then apply it)
Here is the How to Problem Solve post which has more detailed steps to follow. The problem solving formula is similar to the creativity and idea generating model.
While gathering the evidence and doing background checks on the suspects, Poirot discovered that Parker the butler had blackmailed a previous employer. Is past behaviour a predictor of future behaviour, or is it in this situation simply a red herring (deliberate attempt to divert attention)?
In the story there was mention of a salesman visiting Ackroyd before his death, who worked for a company that sold Dictaphones. Dr. Sheppard’s hobby is inventing wireless devices like alarm clocks and so on. There was some confusion about the time of Ackroyd’s death. Are these pieces of information important, or are they red herrings as well.
In problem solving, after you have gathered the information, you have to analyze it to determine its credibility, and decide if you can use it to base your decisions on. Poirot corroborated the information he gathered and checked the alibis. At some point you need to step back from the situation and let your subconscious mull over things for a while. Poirot loved to step back and reflect on all the information he had gathered so far.
And if you have done a good job of gathering the information, and laid out the facts methodically, you will solve the problem. Poirot was able to solve the problem of who killed Roger Ackroyd by doing just that.
Should You Buy The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie?
I recommend that you read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Use the 4-step problem solving model to figure out who committed the murder.
Always ask yourself why when something baffles you in the story. Pay attention to the clues that Agatha Christie gives you. And I am sure you won’t be surprised by the ending the way I was.
This story is applicable to life. Think about how many times you have made your annoyance with someone cloud your judgement, which prevented you from making the correct decision?
Books to Help You Hone Your Problem Solving Skills
Agatha Christie Books
Five Classic Murder Mysteries: (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / The Secret Adversary / The Boomerange Clue / The Moving Finger / Death Comes as the End)And Then There Were NoneThe Mysterious Affair at StylesMurder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)The Sittaford Mystery (Agatha Christie Mysteries Collection (Paperback))The A. B. C. Murders: A Hercule Poirot MysteryAgatha Christie’s The Witness for the ProsecutionSparkling CyanideThe Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple Mysteries)Crooked House
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