What makes a great mystery great? Analyzing one of Agatha Christie’s famous mysteries, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” can help determine what makes a mystery great. Agatha Christie is considered to be the Queen of Mystery and has sold over a billion copies of her mysteries worldwide. This book is argued to be her best book of her career. People like this book for three main reasons: 1) the author has the ability to keep the identity of the criminal secret throughout the whole story, 2) the author can also hide the actual criminal behind a lineup of suspects, and 3) the book has a great plot twist at the end. Knowing what others like about this book will help us understand what makes a great mystery great.
The first component of a good mystery novel is the ability to keep the reader guessing about who did it. In this case, the crime was murder and the detective tried to figure out who did it. It wouldn’t be a mystery if the reader knew who the criminal was. Also, often times when reading a mystery, the reader can tell who the criminal is before it is revealed. The most important component in a mystery is being able to keep the criminal’s identity secret among other suspects.
The second key component in a mystery is the ability to disguise the actual criminal behind a group of other possible suspects. If there was only one suspect in the story, then the mystery wouldn’t be as exciting to read. A great mystery needs to be able to have different people who might have done the crime. A good mystery author can keep the reader on the edge of their seat with no idea who actually did the crime. The more people there are that you can suspect, the better. Agatha Christie was able to write about 10 different suspects keeping the reader clueless about who did the crime.
The third key component in a mystery is a plot twist. The crazier the plot twist, while still being believable, the greater success the story will get. Agatha Christie’s major plot twist in “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” is the fact that the narrator is the actual criminal! The narrator was a character in the story with a rock-solid alibi and was training to be the detective’s assistant! The reader would never suspect him, which was why the book was considered to be Christie’s best book.
In conclusion, there are three major components that are needed to make a mystery, and the better these components, the better the mystery will be. The three components are the ability to keep the criminal’s identity secret among other suspects, the ability to disguise the criminal behind other suspects who might have done the crime, and a crazy, but believable, plot twist. Among the great mysteries in literature, most would all have these three components in it. These three components are the key to writing a great mystery novel.