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Headscratchers / The ABC Murders

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  • So what would have happened if the murderer hadn't been caught? Would he have killed all the way to Z, "making a mistake" each time?
    • I'd imagine not, (a) since the murderer's intended target had already been taken care of by the time he made his 'mistake', (b) the more murders committed, the greater the chance that Poirot and the police would discover evidence that could be linked back to him and (c) the murderer, despite appearances, actually isn't insane. Most likely, the murderer would just fade into the shadows and thank his lucky stars he got away with it. The only real reason he killed the 'mistake' victim was to further obscure the actual target, if he didn't think four victims was enough he'd only really need a couple more like that to sufficiently serve his purposes.
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    • Don't forget that the real murderer is also setting up a fall guy. He doesn't need to keep bumping people off indefinitely; just until someone finally realizes that the weird socially awkward guy who seems like everyone's idea of a serial killer has been showing up at all the places where a serial killer has been bumping people off lately.
      • Which is precisely what happens, and everyone is taken in. The whole thing is on the verge of ending exactly like the killer planned, with the fall guy convicted.
      • Maybe the question is what ABC would have done if his fall guy hadn't been apprehended in Doncaster. Would he have continued sending Cust to (eg) Eastbourne, Felixstowe, Grantham and Halifax and comitted murders there until he finally got him caught? Or just stopped because he got his brother's money without being found out and that's all he really cares about?
      • If the police had really struggled to find Cust, I dare say they'd have probably received an anonymous letter at some point giving them a nudge in Cust's particular direction.

  • The killer's motivation for the entire, elaborate 'ABC' scheme was to conceal the one murder that he really wished to commit; Sir Carmichael Clarke. It is revealed through questioning Sir Carmichael's family and servants that the man had been under a great deal of stress and severely depressed ever since his wife received her terminal cancer diagnosis. At one point, Poirot even asks what people would have thought if Sir Clark had been found at the bottom of a cliff or with a revolver beside his body. He is told that everyone would have assumed that Sir Carmichael committed suicide. So that being said, why did the killer need the entire elaborate ABC charade? He could very easily have pushed Sir Carmichael over a cliff or shot him and left the revolver in his hand. Why go through the entire ABC business if he could have just killed him and made it look like suicide?
    • The only person who says that Sir Carmichael was suicidal was Franklin Clarke - the actual murderer. Besides, even if Franklin did try to frame the murder as a suicide, there's every indication that Thora Grey, thwarted of the change of inheriting money, would insist on an investigation and enough proof would be found of Franklin's guilt
      • I didn't say that Sir Clarke actually was suicidal. Just that Franklin's statement that he had been depressed is plausible on the face and a stupid lie to tell if untrue, since Lady Clarke, Ms. Grey, and the staff would certainly have been questioned and would be in a position to contradict it. Besides, even if Sir Clarke was the one person in the world who wouldn't be depressed when his wife is terminally ill, that doesn't account for a less elaborate murder scheme of pushing him off the cliff as Poirot hypothesized.
      • But why would Thora Grey do that kind of thing? She's not a blood relative, so she wouldn't have inherited anything regardless of the results of the investigation. It is much more likely that she would try to butter up to Franklin instead to try to marry him(much like she in fact tries to do in the novel).
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  • Is the fact that Franklin Clarke didn't go to the Ascot Gold Cup really sufficient to firmly establish, as Poirot claims, that he was in London when the first letter was sent?

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