Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Look at this, people.  Here it is still 2018.  I've finished two whole books, and I'm already writing about the second.  Somebody stop me or I'm going to start having expectations of myself.

Picking up a copy of Murder on the Orient Express, for me, was mostly an exercise in nostalgia. I went through my traditional mystery-lover stage pretty early in my reading career, and when I was in the seventh grade, I was sure I was going to read all the Agatha Christie books, and all those The Cat Who... books, and more, so many more delicious mysteries.  Alas, my reading tastes shifted as I grew older, and my consumption of the entire collection of the delicious new (at the time) copies of Central Columbia Middle School's Agatha Christie collection never came fully to pass, though I did get a few under my belt before my reading tastes shifted to thrillers and horror in high school.  So, reading Murder on the Orient Express was an effort to recapture the reading days of my youth, even though I think I was more of a Miss Marple girl than a Hercule Poirot fan, but, be that as it may, I enjoyed my blast from the past.

Hercule Poirot is returning by train from Syria after solving one case and rushing to England to attend to another when he finds himself in the midst of still a third case when a suspicious gentleman is murdered on the Orient Express.  With no police on board and their progress halted by a snowdrift, it falls to Poirot to gather the evidence of the many potential suspects traveling in the Stamboul-Calais carriage.  Interviewing everyone from the victim's secretary to the honorable Princess Dragomiroff to a Colonel and a young woman from England he'd had a chance encounter with on his previous train, Poirot has to discern the lies from the truth to discover the secrets of both the killed and the killer.

A relative minimum of reliable evidence, an abundance of characters who don't seem quite shady enough for murder, and a healthy dose of lucky guesses make Murder on the Orient Express a fun whodunit.  Its exotic locale in the midst of a snow storm combined with the sinister atmosphere of a marooned train that almost certainly contains a killer adds to its attraction. 

I've always been and still am a fan of the sort of deductive reason, psychologically based crime-solving that marks Poirot's style.  Sure, modern forensics are great, but isn't it more fun to cleverly manipulate potential subjects into tipping their proverbial hands?  There's no doubt that Christie is a master of the genre, and Murder on the Orient Express kept me guessing until the very end when the good detective finally untangles the improbable truth.

(Copy received free from the publisher in exchange for review consideration.)

4 comments:

  1. How fun! I’ve read almost no Christie, but just a couple of years ago I listened to Dan Stevens read the audio of And Then There Were None, which I enjoyed a lot. I’ve been debating picking up Murder on the Orient Express to read before I watch the movie since the cast looks so amazing. Thanks for the review!

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  2. Most people I know loved this book but it was just okay for me. I didn't think he had enough clues to solve the crime.

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  3. I never read a Agatha Christie book either though I’d always intended to. I saw the movie of this one and found it beautiful to watch but didn’t particularly like the story.

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  4. Look at you! You're ON FIRE.

    I read ORIENT EXPRESS a couple months ago and enjoyed it. The only other Christie I've read is AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. I think I liked that one better, but I'm not sure. It's been a long time since I read it.

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