Hello all! 😛
Hope your March is going well so far. Isn’t it funny that it’s already March and yet it’s also only just March? (Does that make any sense whatsoever? No? Alright, moving on.) I mentioned in my last post that I read Murder on the Orient Express and promised you all a review. Well, here it is! Hope you enjoy my review as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Author: Agatha Christie
Publishing Company: HarperCollins Publishers (William Marrow)
Release Year: 1934
Genre(s): Historical fiction, mystery, murder mystery
Series: The Hercule Poirot Mysteries
The year is 1930-something. Hercule Poirot, the brilliant Belgian sleuth is travelling in the winter through Stamboul and across Europe. It should be a fairly simple journey, but where Monsieur Poirot goes, mystery–and murder–follows. What proceeds is a first class passenger found dead in his train cabin; stabbed fifteen times, no less! Monsieur Poirot, along with his acquaintances, the French Monsieur Bouc and Greek Dr. Constantine, takes it upon himself to investigate. But this seems to be a case like no other; there are too many clues and too many suspects. Who does the pipe found at the scene of the murder belong to? Who is this mysterious lady in a red kimono some of the passengers recall seeing? Why was the train conductor’s button in the victim, Mr. Ratchett’s, room if the conductor never lost his button? And, more importantly, is the killer on the loose in snowy Yugoslavia or still in the train?
A whirlwind of questioning, confusion, and alibi after alibi follows. A diverse cast of travellers, from the chatty American lady Mrs. Hubbard to the elegant Princess Dragomiroff to the terse British Colonel Arbuthnot, explain their point of view to the sleuth, each with their own stories and observances that, impossibly, seem to match up and yet contradict each other at the same time. As Poirot, Bouc, and Constantine question each passenger, the situation becomes even more absurd. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And how on earth will this mystery be solved?
I should probably start off my saying this is my first Agatha Christie novel, and I am super eager to reading her other books! Murder on the Orient Express was honestly the best whodunit I’ve read–then again, it was written by the “The Queen of Murder” herself. 😉
The writing is great. It’s very colorful and descriptive and all the characters are so, so well developed; each of them have their own habits and ways of speaking that will have you looking at them with suspicion or fondness. Don’t expect the writing to be overly florid, and make no mistake, every sentence adds something to the plot; there isn’t a single word that is there simply as filler. Dame Christie’s ironic sense of humour also had me smiling quite often. Hercule Poirot’s companions, M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine, while clueless in the art of sleuthing, are endearing, and the detective himself is truly a great protagonist; all quick-wit and intuition and asking the right things in the right ways to get the answers he wants.
Another point that really struck me: the entire novel takes place on a stationary Orient Express that has been snowed in in the mountains of Yugoslavia–a classic “locked room mystery.” And yet, neither does the setting get old, nor do the characters; most likely because the situation changes every chapter.
Now, it’s rather difficult to do this book justice without explaining the entire situation in great detail, but I will say this: every new page brought a new twist in the mystery. Just when I thought that everything had gotten too absurd to solve and gave up on trying to figure out the murderer, the great Poirot’s fine-tuned mind put all the discrepancies together and produced an outcome I could never have even considered. Agatha Christie took a murder and then wove a tangled web of clues and characters that led to an incredible ending. 🙂
In short: Looking for a quick, well-written, crazy good mystery novel that will have you turning pages eagerly? Look no further and pick this one up!
(Update: Fun fact from a commenter below–Agatha Christie allegedly stayed in Room 41 at the “Pera Palace Hotel” in Istanbul while writing this novel. Has anyone ever been there? I sure would like to! 😀 J.K. Rowling’s hotel room is quite famous now as well; in fact, the room Rowling stayed in at the Balmoral Hotel has been named the “J.K. Rowling Suite”!)