Published by HarperCollins Publishers on June 4th 2007
"The murderer is with us - on the train now..."
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again...
When someone says “Agatha Christie” there are two books I think of. The first is AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, my favorite of her many many novels. I’ve already reviewed this book on the blog before so that’s not what I’m here to talk about. No, the second book, and the one we’re here to discuss is MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is one of Christie’s detective specific novels, in this case a Hercule Poirot mystery. Though normally I prefer Miss Marple or even Tommy and Tuppence, MURDER is my second favorite Christie mystery. Considering the number of TV movies, episodes of shows, and even feature films made based on it I think many Christie fans would agree.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is different from Christie’s other mysteries in that the so called culprits are never actually caught. Sure, Poirot solves the case as he is known to do, but the circumstances lend themselves in such a way that no one can actually prove or wants to prove the case in a court room. This is one of the reasons I like it so much, that the morality of the case is so ambiguous. Besides the fact that Christie’s mystery is flawless in its mechanics, the characters find themselves at an interesting crossroads between justice and morals.
Now anyone who knows anything about historical crimes will find a lot of similarity between the kidnapping featured as the center point of the novel and the kidnapping and murder of baby Charles Lindbergh Jr, the son of a famous aviator. In fact Christie was inspired by the crime when she wrote this novel. If you’re familiar at all with the case it’s a fascinating moment to see the shadows of it in a piece of fiction almost down to the letter. The imagination of what could have happened, how the family could have responded is both weird and kind of thrilling.
The one negative I have for this book is the same one I have for every Poirot novel. I cannot stand Hercule Poirot. Poirot is fussy, kind of snooty, and has none of the charm of the busybody Miss Marple (whom I adore) nor the fun of Tommy and Tuppance. Every TV for film version of the character is the same, just as grating on my nerves. Still, a good plot can usually save a Hercule Poirot novel, even as I’m wishing for Marple instead.
I recoomend this, and many other Agatha Christie novels for anyone who love a well spun mystery who may not care as much about character (Christie chooses plot over character every time).
Are you familiar with Christie novels? Which is your favorite? Share in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,