Book Review || Murder on the Orient Express

Hello all! ūüėõ

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!

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Author: Agatha Christie

Publishing Company: HarperCollins Publishers (William Marrow)

Release Year: 1934

Genre(s): Historical fiction, mystery, murder mystery

Series: The Hercule Poirot Mysteries


My Synopsis

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? agatha christie.jpgAnd, 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?

My Thoughts

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. ūüėČ

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.

murder on the orient express.jpgNow, 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. ūüôā

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! ūüėÄ 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”!)

‚̧ Yasimone

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Book Review || Around the World in 80 Days

Author: Jules Verne

Mr. Phileas Fogg is a wealthy British man who lives a precise, solitary life. On the morning of October 2nd, 1872, he is in the process of hiring a new manservant, a Frenchman named Jean Passepartout, who is glad to get away from the excitement of his previous years. Later that morning, Mr. Fogg is having a debate with some other rich gentlemen from the Reform Club about whether it is possible to actually travel around the world in eighty days— after all, a new railway section has just opened in India. So, in a rather rash moment, he wagers ¬£20,000 that he can and will travel around the world in eighty days. Mr. Fogg is very determined not to lose his bet, and poor Passepartout is not pleased at all! They pack everything up in a carpet bag and catch a train to Paris. Meanwhile, Mr. Fogg begins planning out their entire journey in his journal. They must travel from London to Suez (via Paris), Suez to Bombay, Bombay to Calcutta, Calcutta to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Yokohama, Yokohama to San Francisco, San Francisco to New York, and¬†arrive at¬†London on December 21st, at exactly 8:45 p.m.

This is the route Mr. Fogg, Aouda, and Passepartout took.
This is the route Mr. Fogg, Aouda, and Passepartout took.

The pair travels by train, steamer, sail boat, cargo ship, sledge, and even by elephant! Along the way, they encounter many different cultures and people, and even save a charming Indian woman, Aouda,¬†from her death at a traditional ceremony, who then continues on the voyage with them. However, Passepartout knows something that Aouda and Mr. Fogg do not— an undercover detective from Scotland Yard, Mr. Fix, believes that Mr. Fogg is a criminal who stole ¬£55,000 in bank-notes from the Bank of England not too long ago. Between storms, kidnappings, imprisonment, transportation delays, and Inspector Fix doggedly pursuing them, will Mr. Fogg and Passepartout be able to reach England in time?

This is a stunning, extremely suspenseful read that you simply won’t be able to put down once you pick it up. The book is rich in detail of the descriptions of the diverse cultures and countries as they were during Jules Verne’s day, which I find to be very interesting; they are quite different than how we view other peoples around the world today. Reading this book really has an emotional¬†connection for me (see why at Book Chat #2) and gives me that “warm, fuzzy feeling” inside that I always get from reading the classics. ūüôā You’ll love all the twists and turns they encounter in all the different countries, but perhaps the best one is at the end… Around the World in 80 Days is the story of the epic adventure against time that you always wanted to have but never could.

-Yasimone