I have a small confession. During high school I read almost every single Agatha Christie mystery novel. I was a frequent visitor to the small library in my home town that luckily had a good selection of her novels. I read every single novel on that shelf, except for Murder on the Orient Express. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to read it because it seems like it is the one Agatha Christie novel that most people have read. I like to be different like that, which is one of the reasons it took me into my twenties to see all of the Star Wars movies, but that is for a different post.
Even though Hercule Poirot is not my favorite of the Agatha Christie detectives, I have to say she writes him brilliantly. He is a small, impeccable man with some odd tendencies about his appearance and finances. Part of me has always thought of him as a smaller, less OCD, more dignified version of Monk. Christie goes out of her way to provide the reader with such detail about her most famous detective that you can almost hear him talk.
Murder on the Orient Express starts out, like any murder mystery, with a murder. This particular murder takes place during the night on an international railroad. The man is found stabbed to death the next morning with 12 stab wounds. The biggest problem that Poirot faces is that from the way each of the stab wounds were made there is no way his murder could be only one person. So Poirot finds himself stuck in a snow storm on a train that has at least a couple of murderers roaming the corridors.
After reading at lot of mystery novels, you start to solve them in your head long before you get to the end. In some Christie novels this is possible, but one thing I liked about this book is that Poirot withholds key points of information until the end of the book, making it impossible for the reader to solve it completely without finishing the book. It reminds me of And Then There Were None, another Christie novel that cannot be solved until the last couple pages of the book.
This book reiterated the lesson that I learned when I finally saw Star Wars, just because everybody has seen/read it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth jumping on the band wagon…sometimes.
Christie is a captivating writer and this is definitely one of her best works. If you have never picked up an Agatha Christie book, grab this one, it is well worth the read.