Published by Harper Collins
Publication date – originally published in 1934
Source – own copy
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.
Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer in case he or she decides to strike again.
Despite the opulent setting there is something less extravagant taking place on board the Simplon Orient Express. Ratchett, an unpleasant, distrustful individual, has been found dead, stabbed 12 times, the murderer leaving few clues and vanishing without a trace. Unfortunately for them, Hercule Poirot managed to secure a berth on the train.
This is one of the most famous of Agatha Christie’s work. Few people will be lucky enough to start reading the book without any clue as to the denouement. But even if you do know the outcome, this is a book you can still enjoy for the sheer skill of the story-telling.
We are on the Orient Express. The wealth and grandeur is assumed. Agatha Christie never goes into much detail as to the surroundings the passengers find themselves in. There are no descriptions of the compartments, the shiny silverware or exquisite china in the dining cart. The focus is all placed on the characters, a cocktail of society thrown together on a train travelling from Istanbul to Calais. It is these characters that Poirot focusses on and so in turn does the reader. This carriage full of characters crosses social divides, from Countesses to car salesmen, and indeed is commented on by Poirot’s friend Buc in the novel.
Christie gently pokes fun at her characters, at society and the overt prejudices that were rampant at the time. Even Poirot does not escape the gentle dig.
I buddy read this with about 12 other people and enjoyed the process throughly. The other 12 people may not have as much, having to read my inane comments about it. It was great to see people’s reactions to the story and to see others views on the characters and story-telling.
This is the ultimate locked room mystery. All the suspects are contained in one carriage. It is easy to forget that the rest of the train is full of passengers. Each character is different, with their own foibles and reasons for travelling, and perhaps with their own secrets to hide.
There is something throughly enjoyable about Agatha Christie’s novels, and that special something is found in abundance in Murder on the Orient Express. A perfect book to curl up with and get lost in.