Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is a classic 1930s mystery in which a person is murdered on a train just before it becomes stuck in the snow. Someone on the train is guilty of murder and Inspector Poirot must find the murderer without any high-tech gadgetry, instead relying upon observable fact, interviews of the suspects, and his powers of deduction.
You probably knew all that, but I'd completely forgotten the storyline, apart from "Murder on train; Poirot investigates," although I've seen the movie version that stars David Suchet (long, long ago). The novel edition shown above is a tie-in to the new movie release starring Kenneth Branagh as Poirot and a stunningly high-profile cast as the passengers and suspects.
You might be surprised to find out this is the first time I've read Murder on the Orient Express. I've never been a big fan of Agatha Christie but I do like to occasionally read a mystery as a change of pace, so I requested the book from HarperCollins for review. As it turned out, in spite of its classic status I felt about the same as I always do about Agatha Christie's books (meh), but there was one thing that particularly intrigued me and that was the details of the train, itself - the diagram of compartments, the description of the sleeping berths and dining car, etc. That part I enjoyed. And, the movie tie-in edition has a photo section, so there are shots of the train to refer to when the author mentions certain details, like the window bar.
Recommended, especially to mystery lovers - I may not be the best judge of Agatha Christie because I tend to dislike the kind of mysteries that involve someone hammering suspects with questions, but the descriptions of the train itself kept me going and I can see why Murder on the Orient Express is a classic. Its setting and the murder are definitely unique. And, now, looking back on a work that is at least 80 years old, you get a fascinating historical peek into of a mode of travel that has all but disappeared. I was also intrigued by a comment made by a German character about how her people were peaceful, an especially interesting remark in view of the events that took place in Germany within a handful of years after publication in 1934. I appreciated the movie photo section and now I definitely want to see the movie, if only for a better look inside the train.
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