Goodreads: Murder on the Orient Express
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…
Murder on the Orient Express is my first Agatha Christie novel (which I read in anticipation of the movie release in November), and I enjoyed it immensely in spite of not being a particularly avid mystery reader. (I do dabble in Sherlock Holmes, but Arthur Conan Doyle does have something of a pattern to the mysteries he presents.)
There is a fairly large cast of characters in this novel, in spite of the fact I momentarily worried that the action all taking place on a train, primarily in a single sleeping carriage, might make the book feel a bit claustrophobic. On the contrary, Christie really utilizes the space and character pool, and she makes each character/suspect come alive for the reader. Only a couple seemed to me to be missing much time on page, making it difficult for me to get a good handle on them. The cast overall is varied and clearly presented to the reader for consideration.
I don’t want to say much about the mystery because it’s too easy to accidentally spoil the plot in these types of books. However, I will say that it took me a long time and some hard thinking just to come up with what I thought was a reasonable solution to the crime. The clues are so complex and well-laid that I was dissatisfied with several initial proposals I came up with and had to keep reading and reading to gain more information before I came with an explanation I was at least moderately happy with. Mysteries that are too easily solved are disappointing to me, so I loved that in this book Christie really kept me guessing. (No, I did not know the plot or ending of the book before I started reading, much to the surprise of some of my friends, who seem under the impression that the plot is basically as much a part of pop culture knowledge as Romeo and Juliet.)
I also found it really helpful that Christie includes, first, a diagram of the train carriage and where each guest is sleeping and, later, Poirot’s notes on what he has learned from each of the interviews he has conducted. This is something a really dedicated reader and mystery fan might been inspired to jot down themselves in an effort to solve the crime, but personally I would not have been that invested myself and was pleased it had been done for me.
I enjoyed this book enough that I have put And Then There Were None on hold at the library, and I look forward to reading more of Christie’s work soon.