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|“||I have no pity for myself either. So let it be veronal. But I wish Hercule Poirot had never retired from work and come here to grow vegetable marrows.||„|
|~ Dr. James Sheppard's final words in his journal before committing suicide (as well as the final words of the whole novel)|
Dr. James Sheppard is the main antagonist of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Originally, Dr. Sheppard is presented as the story's deuteragonist and narrator, as well as Poirot's new assistant, in place of Captain Hastings who has married and settled in the Argentine.
However, the novel later reveals an unexpected plot twist in the final chapter, where Dr. Sheppard reveals he was an unreliable narrator, using literary techniques to conceal his guilt without writing anything untrue.
The plot twist about Dr. Sheppard is often considered to be one of the best plot twist made by Dame Christie, making The Murder of Roger Ackroyd her breakout work and, by far, one of her most famous novels ever.
- In the 1931 film Alibi based on the novel, Dr. Sheppard was portrayed by the late J.H. Roberts.
- In the 1939 radio drama adaptation of the novel, Dr. Sheppard is voiced by the late Orson Welles, who directed the radio drama and voiced Poirot in the same work.
- In the radio drama adaptation made by BBC Radio 4, he was voiced by John Woodvine.
- In Agatha Christie's Poirot, which adapted the novel in 2000, he was portrayed by Oliver Ford Davies.
- In the 2002 Russian film adpatation, tiiled Poirot's Failure, he was portrayed by Sergei Makovetsky.
- In Agatha Christie's Poirot, Dr. Sheppard comes across as a much less sympathetic character than in the original novel and deviates differently from his original characterization.
- His journal entries are entirely callous and his loving relationship with his sister is downplayed. In addition, the role he played as Poirot's assistant in the narrative is largely taken by Inspector Japp in this adaptation, which also means that it's less of a surprise when he turns out to be the killer, as he's now just another suspect.
- His death is also changed. In Agatha Christie's Poirot, Sheppard commits suicide with his gun after a chase through a factory instead of quietly taking his own life under Poirot's advice.