Book Review || Murder on the Orient Express

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!

Book Review Logo

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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”!)

❤ Yasimone

Book Review || Murder is Bad Manners

Author: Robin Stevens

Publishers: Simon & Schuster

Release Year: 2015

Alternative Title: Murder Most Unladylike

My Summary

English boarding school Deepdean students Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells have formed a secret detective society. The only problem is that they haven’t had any cases to solve. How thrilling. But then everything changes when one evening, Hazel stumbles upon the science teacher’s body in the gym! Struggling not to faint, Hazel returns to Daisy with the macabre news. When the two return to the gym, however, Miss Bell’s corpse has vanished into nothingness! murder is bad manners close up.jpgWith Daisy enthusiastic and practically bouncing with glee to be a crime-solving detective like in her beloved whodunit novels and Hazel more than reluctant, the duo takes it upon themselves to solve the murder of Miss Bell (because, let’s be honest, why would a body disappear like that if it had just been an accident?). Solving a murder mystery, however, is not as simple as it seems; they’ve got too many suspects, too little clues, and no way to prove that there even was a victim! Everyone believes that Miss Bell has just resigned, but Hazel and Daisy know better. As they investigate around the school and gather alibis, each girl forms her own opinion on who killed Miss Bell, and why. But just when they think they’ve got a lead, everything they think they know is proved to be wrong. Will they be able to solve the case of The Murder of Miss Bell, or will the killer stay on the loose?

My Thoughts

I absolutely ADORED (with all capital letters) this book. It’s the perfect combination of Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, clever students, boarding school, and sneakiness… what’s not to love?

The prose, narrated by Hazel— the more sensible and thoughtful of the two —was charming and witty and oh-so-very English. I also found the plot to be nicely done: Although the case itself was relatively simple, it had just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you in suspense and confused along with the girls. For an embarrassingly long time, I could not figure out who the murderer was! But don’t tell anyone I said that. 😉 murder is bad manners.jpgThe characters and their friendships were also extremely well formed. Robin Stevens certainly managed to capture a realistic relationship between two girls so different in school status— the blue-eyed, blonde-haired sweetheart of the school and the clever, quiet foreign student. Their friendship is complex and feels very genuine. And unlike in some other books where children are the main characters, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the adult characters were not bumbling, clueless idiots. As for the setting, I’ve always found charmingly sinister boarding schools to be great for a story to take place in. Add a quaint 1930s flair and a touch of British-ness and you’ve got a school everyone will want to attend, including me. 🙂 A fun, suspenseful book full of red herrings and suspicious characters, Murder is Bad Manners is the perfect book to curl up with indoors on a dark and stormy afternoon.

*It should be noted that I own the US version of the book, with the title Murder is Bad Manners, and I really love the cover of the book ^^^ (even more so than the UK version’s one). As a matter of fact, the main reason I first picked up Murder is Bad Manners is because of how pretty the cover was. 😀

By the way, in the upcoming weeks I’ll be doing a bit of travelling, so I may not be able to post as much. Just thought I’d let you all know in advance. 🙂

❤ Yasimone