#59 A Review of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot)There is a reason why Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist in the world.  Her mysteries and characters draw you in to realistic worlds.  Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are two of the most beloved character sleuths to ever be written.  Perhaps the most famous of Christie’s work is Murder on the Orient Express, with its tale of perplexing murder on a dark snowy night in a train.  The fantastic storyline draws the reader in, and makes him/her feel like he/she is solving the mystery along with Monsieur Poirot.

Christie’s work begins by introducing us to the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who has boarded the Orient Express in order to return from a crime scene in Syria.  His friend, Monsieur Bouc, helps him find a compartment that the two share for the first evening.  On the second night, Poirot finds a second compartment for himself, but he is suddenly awakened by a loud noise from the compartment next to him.  The compartment is occupied by a Mr. Ratchett.  Later on, Poirot is awakened again by one of his cabin neighbors ringing the bell for the conductor.  He discovers that this woman, Mrs. Hubbard, exclaims that someone was in her compartment.  Poirot dismisses this, but is woken a third time when he hears a loud thump on his door.  He rushes to look into the hallway, and catches a glimpse of a woman in a kimono running down the passage in the distance.  Even more disturbing, Poirot discovers the next morning that Mr. Ratchett has been murdered.  There are 12 separate stab wounds on his body, yet the evidence points to conflicting suspects, as the wounds are completely different in intensity and point of entry.  Bouc suggests that Poirot takes on the case, and he is faced with the fact that the killer is most likely still on the train, as the Express is stuck motionless in a snowstorm.  Will Poirot be able to solve the mystery before the killer strikes again?

Poirot is a fascinating sleuth, the way he deduces “whodunit” is extremely clever.  Christie writes the novel so that the reader is in a “Hercule bubble”.  What I mean by that is you follow Hercule around and that’s it.  You aren’t given insights into the other characters thoughts or movements, effectively giving you the same facts that Hercule has to solve the mystery.  Mysteries told in this manner are my favorite!  I like trying to solve the mystery for myself, it makes me feel smart.  Some would say that leaving the insights of the other characters out takes away from the “fleshing out” of a novel, but I think in this case it only adds to the suspense and mystique!  In doing this, Christie makes the ending even more shocking, as the reader has little to no inclination of who the suspect is due to the limited point of view.  When the ending did come around, I was completely shocked!

Another awesome aspect of Christie’s writing is her ability to unfold everything in perfect time.  She evenly distributes the evidence surrounding the crime throughout the novel, piecing things together slowly until the final moment before the big reveal.  The events unfold methodically, although not enough to be boring.  The mystery proceeds at this pace to highlight the eccentricities of the characters.  They are what makes the novel.  The multitude of characters that Christie creates are the color to her story.  While the murder is the substance running behind the scenes, the characters give it life. 

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventeenth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Penguin Group (2000)
Paperback 256 pages

3 thoughts on “#59 A Review of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

  1. I read this book two years ago. I liked it, but it was difficult for me to follow the story. I also saw the film, and I recommend to see the film before reading the book in order to understand the story better.

    P.D.: I’m sorry about commenting so late, but I’ve just discovered this blog and I wanted to share my opinion about the books that appear here and I have read… I’d like to congratulate the author of this blog: I really like it!

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