I’ve most likely seen an adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express in the distant past but I didn’t remember any details of the plot other than Poirot is stuck on a train and murder happens. So it was quite fun to read a bit of vintage mystery.
All around us are people, of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages. For three days these people, these strangers to one another, are brought together.
At the start of this book, Poirot is travelling back from Syria (I know, how things change) which involves boats and luxury, long distance trains. After briefly acquainting himself with everyone in first class, Poirot retires for the night. In the morning he awakes to a train at standstill and a dead body in one compartment. With the train stuck in snow, he might as well go about solving the crime.
He sets about discovering the past of the victim and questioning all the passengers in a very Poirot fashion. Using his little grey cells he pieces together the events of that night by interviews, supposition and very circumstantial evidence. As the investigation goes on it seems there are far too many coincidences but it all comes together in the end.
But have I not heard you say often that to solve a case a man has only to lie back in his chair and think?
It’s of the time in the sense there are a lot of stereotypes based on nationality. It is suggested that the murderer can’t be English because stabbing is a very Latin way to kill someone. However making Poirot Belgian means he is also harsh on the English too, which stops it from being a bit smug. Still, if you are sensitive to this kind of thing in older books, it might ruin your experience.
When I got to the end, it jogged my memory a bit, at least the idea of how it was carried out. I think the concept of how the murder was committed is one that’s not been too overused, but it’s probably that which makes it one of her most read, along with the train based setting. Needless to say I found it gripping enough, although it takes while to get into because there’s so many characters. If you fancy trying Agatha Christie, this is good place to start.
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