Murder on the Orient Express Review
By Alexis Mercer
I do fancy myself a reader. A connoisseur of mysteries, in fact. My love for mystery started in elementary school when I read my first Nancy Drew mystery. I proceeded to read every book in the series at least once. My fascination with mystery continued into my teen and adult years.
So when Murder on the Orient Express was chosen for this month’s Book Club read, I was rather taken aback. I realized I knew nothing about Agatha Christie other than her name and that she was referred to as “The Queen of Mystery.” Could I truly call myself a connoisseur?
I decided to dig in and do a bit of research before I read the book itself. I was amused to find that there is an entire website dedicated to Agatha Christie (though my husband feels Wikipedia is a reliable source, I do not share his enthusiasm).
At www.agathachristie.com I read that she “is best known for her 66 detective novels, 150 short stories, plays, and her famous sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.”
First published in 1934, Murder on the Orient Express is claimed to be one of Christie’s greatest novels. An original movie adaptation came out in 1974 with actors Albert Finney, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman.
It was made into a BBC radio show, a PC game and also TV series.
The remake of the original movie will come out this fall, starring Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfiffer to name a few.
Armed with the knowledge that this was an award winning book that has been turned into every adaptation at least once, I settled in to read a mystery.
Ms. Christie did not disappoint.
"The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances."
The setting begins on a train platform in Aleppo with Hercule Poirot, the main character in a series of mystery novels by Christie. He finds himself in a somewhat empty train car, and enjoys his wintery ride with a plan to stay in Haydapassar. But upon his arrival at the hotel, Poirot receives a message at the front desk that a previously started Kassner Case needs his assistance, so he must find his way back to London immediately.
Poirot boards the Wagon Lit train to find the director of the train, as well as his friend, Monsieur Bouc. In what is a surprising turn of events for the winter months, they find the first class sleeping rooms to be full. But M. Bouc pulls some strings and fits Poirot in to a second class coach.
The characters, including Americans, a German, French, two Russians and Englishmen, take off on their journey on the cross country train. Quickly the action unfolds as M. Poirot is approached by a passenger, Mr. Ratliff, to guard his life from a threat he received, but Poirot declines as he is suspicious of the ordeal.
That evening the train simultaneously gets stuck in a snowdrift and Mr. Ratliff is killed in the sleeping coach right next to Poirot. So begins the search to find the killer before reaching the next destination.
Christie’s ability to masterfully weave a story and intrigue the readers with her characters exceeded all expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale and the way in which it was told.
Now that I have finished my first experience with Agatha Christie’s novels, I do plan to continue reading more. Maybe then I will revisit my possible title of Mystery Connoisseur.
*I have chosen a historical fiction novel and am about halfway through. Stay tuned for the review next week.*
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