“I must get this clear,” he said. “Who exactly are you? And where do you come in?”
“I represent the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits.” He paused, then added, “I am a detective. My name is Hercule Poirot.”
Agatha Christie | Murder on the Orient Express | p. 52
In the nick of time, just before this year comes to a close, I finished Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. As some of you might know, Agatha Christie and at least one of her works had been on my to be read list of this year, and I truly cannot believe I haven’t read something of hers before. So I started my reading journey through Christie’s works with ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, simply because I had seen the phenomenal movie adaptation roughly two years ago and had since decided I needed to read this book.
‘The Murder on the Orient Express’ is one of the many cases of famous detective Hercule Poirot. In this one, the detective with his enormous (and somewhat defining) moustache is on his way home from another case and practically walks straight into another. During his stay on the Orient Express, one passenger of the train apparently is being stabbed to death. Meanwhile, the train is stuck in a sudden snow drift, meaning one thing for Poirot as well as the other passengers: the murderer, whoever it is, might still be with them on the train.
‘At half an hour after midnight we ran into the snowdrift. No one can have left the train since then.’ M. Bouc said solemny.
‘The murderer is with us – on the train now…’ – p. 49
First of all: Hercule Poirot is such a wonderful protagonist! He appears calm and collected, but at the same time is witty and has the driest of humors, which I really like in a main character. The way he is playing with the expectations of the reader as well as the other protagonists is stunning and has been deeply enjoyable.
Agatha Christie’s writing style is simple, right to the point and consists mainly of dialogues between the main protagonist and the suspects of the crime. Christie achieved to build each character mainly through those dialogues – and it is, in my opinion, marvelously done. As the plot continues (and thickens), the author leaves more or less obvious hints about the character’s personalities and what this might suggest for the murder.
‘When he passed me in the restaurant,’ he said at last, ‘I had a curious impression. It was as though a wild animal – an animal savage, but savage! you understand – had passed me by.’
‘And yet he looked altogether of the most respectable.’
‘Précisément! The body – the cage – is everything of the most respectable – but through the bars, the wild animal looks out…’ – p. 17f.
Thanks to the chronological order of the story’s events and Poirot’s explanations and thoughts on the matter the case and its solution are easy enough to follow. There are also a few hints and clues hidden in the text, and sometimes you can even guess which item is going to be useful for solving the crime at hand. And still, I was surprised at some aspects of the outcome – and remember, I had watched the movie adaptation! Once I picked it up, it didn’t take me long to finish ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ because of its enthralling story. Until late at night I kept reading, literally until my eyes couldn’t possibly stay open any longer.
So, if you are still looking for a mystery crime novel to read over the holidays while (mostly) imaginary snow flutters from the sky – this is the one for you! The next book of Agatha Christie is already lying on my stack of books to be read in this winter, and I am excited to dive into another case of detective Hercule Poirot.
Author: Agatha Christie
Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Press: Harper Collins
Year of publication: first published in 1934
[Genre: Mystery | Crime | Fiction]