This week I dug into one of Agatha Christie’s most iconic novels, Murder on the Orient Express which features that Belgian detective and his little grey cells, Hercule Poirot.
Summoned back to London, Poirot must forgo a layover and board the Orient Express to make it to his next assignment. Unfortunately, the train car is full-up and on top of that shortly after setting off and before the train becomes mired in a sudden snowfall, stranding them, a murder takes place.
Putting his wits to the test the detective interviews all of the passengers to establish a timeline of events, alibis, and to suss out the guilty party. Christie doles out clues and information in her usual crisp fashion, flavoring it with a sense of humor.
There’s very much a sense of fun throughout the tale and happily, most of the clues are there whether you notice them or not. There are a few things that only Poirot is privy to though and that’s frustrating as I like to work on solving the case at the same time. About three-quarters of the way through I much like Poirot were right on track to the same answer.
The story is laid out into four parts, the murder, the interviews, the evidence, and the resolution. Each section moves along rapidly as the reader follows along behind Poirot reveling in his acumen.
Despite some consternation about not being able to follow along with some of Poirot’s reveals, specifically when he uses knowledge that the reader doesn’t have, I really enjoyed this one and was glad that both he and I came to the same conclusion.
The story itself has some very interesting things at work in it, especially exploring the concepts of justice and vengeance. I also see where some of the ideas could strain credulity but Christie works very hard to ground her story in reality attempting to cover all issues.
Poirot remains a very fun character to read about. He is occasionally prideful, usually with good reason, and he notices everything. He may occasionally be disappointed in those who are helping him, but it’s fun to see him attempt to nudge them in the right direction before he reveals everything.
I have been holding back on watching the new film adaptation from Branagh because I wanted to be familiar with the source material first. Now that I’ve done so, I’ll be curious to see how it stands up. I also delight in the fact that there are so many more Agatha Christie books and stories to delve into yet.
Next time we’ll see if I can solve the mystery before the detective on the case, or at least come to the same conclusion before the final reveal. I am enjoying these classic novels, and they read so quick!