A man is murdered on a train stranded in a snowstorm. The conditions and timing of the murder suggest that one of the twelve passengers must be the killer. Can the great Hercule Poirot identify the executioner or has he witnessed “the perfect crime”?
Murder on the Orient Express is now my third experience with the Queen of Mystery and while I don’t want to go so far as to say it was a disappointment by any means, it definitely didn’t live up to the hype like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or ..And Then There Were None did.
Books like Murder on the Orient Express are the reason why Christie was so unbelievably successful. She would paint herself into a corner and readers would marvel at how she could get out of the room without scuffing up the floors. This book is no exception. Christie presents an unsolvable case and then unleashes her signature detective on it like a dog on a bone. Poirot is excellent here – like his creator, he’s playing a step ahead of the reader slowly leaking information to keep his audience invested; you never truly believe he’s lost in the dark.
While I did read this in a relatively short period of time, it is not a book I would consider “unputdownable”. My main complaint comes with the layout of the novel. I found the constant interviews repetitive although I understand the need to structure the story that way. There was just a ton of information coming in constantly that I found the need to re-read passages over and over again. Honestly, the whole thing felt like a math problem (if passenger A goes down the hallway at 1:15am and passenger B opens his door at 1:14am, how long would passenger A have to reach the end of the hallway before passenger C sees them from their room?).
I will say that I thought the final thirty pages or so were brilliant. I absolutely loved the ending and the big reveal caught me completely by surprise. I probably should have seen it coming, but I’m not the brightest when it comes to clues and hints dropped in plain sight.
Maybe I’m in the minority as this is one of Christie’s most popular novels and most widely adapted of her work. I plan to check out the 2017 film this weekend and will do a write-up for the blog. I’m hoping I enjoy a film adaptation a little more than the book.