Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

I recently picked up a 1972 edition of Murder on the Orient Express at a book sale for the princely sum of 50p and then spent a very pleasant time reading this, one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels for the first time in years.

Reading a book when you know what happens, particularly when that book is from the mystery genre, may seem a little bizarre but what I’m realising is that I now notice nuances that perhaps evaded me before I immersed myself in crime fiction and so there was plenty to keep me amused on this fascinating journey, mine being more successful than the Orient Express’s as I didn’t encounter any snow-drifts.

This book was originally published as a novel in 1934 following Christie’s trip on the train where she noted down all the details required to perfectly recreate the scene, yes the placing of the lock on the interconnecting doors was researched to that level of detail! Christie used the real life disappearance of the abduction of Charles Lindbergh’s son as inspiration for the plot indicating that the Queen of Crime relied on real criminals to recreate in fiction, something that some commentators complain that it is disrespectful for our contemporary authors to do.
Anyway back to the plot, a closed room (or train) mystery featuring Poirot who just happens to be on the Orient Express on his way back to London from Istanbul to deal with an urgent matter, after all travelling days on a train was the response to something urgent in the 1930’s. Once aboard the train which is unusually full for the time of year Poirot is approached by a Mr Ratchett who tells him that his life is being threatened and he needs protection. Poirot having taken a dislike to the man while at the hotel in Istanbul declines to take on the job stating ‘I do not like your face Mr Ratchett. On the second night of the journey Mr Ratchett is stabbed to death and since the train is stuck in a snow-drift the Yugoslavian Police are unable to attend so it falls upon dear old Poirot to carry out the investigation.

The plot is peppered with clues and the characters each drawn to enhance the differences of culture and class so that the reader is easily able to follow the various suspects and their actions so that while the amateur sleuth is pitted against the far superior little grey cells of Poirot they still have a chance to solve the mystery, and what a mystery it is!

I love this book the plot is ingenious, the pace fast and the victim a man who is despised by all so not a moments sorrow is wasted upon the deceased instead the pleasurable seeking the clues and fitting them together into a fitting scenario but best of all is the ending where with all the travellers are called to the fine dining car as Poirot outlines two possibilities of what could conceivably explain what happened in carriage number 2, and I can’t imagine a more perfect finale.

Which is your favourite Agatha Christie novel?

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

49 thoughts on “Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

  1. This was the first Christie I read and I loved it. I can’t say I have a favorite Christie – there are so many fabulous ones. I do love the travel themed ones very much though – Nile, Mesopotamia, Baghdad. All very good!

      1. He IS Poirot. Although I did not like the final episode. I think Christie did it all wrong with having Poirot … best not say anything in case someone hasn’t read it or watched it. It’s one of those “I am your father” moments

    1. They are fun to reread but I know what you mean about the TBR 😉 I’ve promised myself that I’ll buy a few second hand copies to slip in between the other reads, after all they are short compared to modern crime novels.

  2. This is one of my favorites–followed closely by Death On The Nile. Movie versions of both of these are also wonderful and stand up to the test of time. Plus–it’s great fun to play “name the movie star” while watching them!

  3. Cleo – Oh, this one is definitely a classic isn’t it? I do like the way the atmosphere is created too. It gets steadily more claustrophobic as the snow falls and stops the train. And of course, the solution’s clever too. Just goes to show you too how much you can get from re-reading a story.

  4. I have enjoyed this book several times, and a couple of different adaptations. It’s so familiar that it almost doesn’t count as a mystery, and I can’t really remember whether I came close to guessing the solution first time around. But I have very warm feelings for the book. Thanks for reminding me of it…

  5. I’ve fond memories of Halloween Party and A Murder Is Announced, as they were the first I read – indeed, the first crime novels. My mother used to do bed and breakfast in the farmhouse when we were younger, and these two were left behind by a guest (in fact, they’re still there, I know exactly where!) So I blame him/her for my life of crime (novels!) I’ve only got a couple of her books in the house – I’m going to keep an eye out in second hand shops. I love the retro covers!

    1. I do like the retro covers, mine came from not long after I was born and I have to say it’s stood the test of time! How wonderful to have books left behind, we used to rent cottages and they often had bookshelves that I used to check out as soon as we arrived. I’m after a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd next although I feel I should find Halloween Party for October 🙂

  6. Hard to pick one favourite – so here’s three! The Moving Finger – love the characters and the Jerry/Megan romance. (There’s a brillinat audio version of it too read by the wondrous Joan Hockson.) Death in the Nile is my favourite Poirot, and for Miss Marple (I don’t count Moving Finger since she’s not in it much really) got to be Murder at the Vicarage. But Tommy and Tuppence would be devastated if I didn’t also mention By the Pricking of my Thumbs…

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