Happy Friday the 13th! I’m not that superstitious when it comes to this day, but I was rudely displaced from my bed by the fire alarm this morning… Make of that what you will!
Today I bring you a book review of a novel by the queen of crime, Murder on the Orient Express. The new movie version comes out next month (which I’m very excited about) so I thought it would be nice to read and review the book beforehand. I’m quite partial to the TV adaptation with David Suchet, and the novel is a classic, so this new movie has a lot to live up to!
Synopsis from the back cover:
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward 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, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…
I’m slowly making my way through all of the Poirot stories and I was really excited to get to this one. I’d already seen the TV episode, so I knew what happened, but I wanted to see how Agatha Christie wrote it in the first place, and for the most part I was not disappointed.
I’ve determined that I love Poirot stories where everything takes place in one, sometimes cramped, location – in this case the stunning Orient Express – because you get to know the characters much more deeply and see their interactions better. The Simplon Orient Express is a real thing, which makes the story all the more vivid after seeing the photos of the luxuriously stunning train. I adored the setting and the characters, and of course the little Belgian detective who throws everything for a loop! I also really enjoyed the structure of the novel, in that all the evidence and interviews are carefully laid out with order and method so that the reader can try to piece things together themselves. I’m terrible at guessing who the murderer is, but it was interesting this time around because I knew whodunit so I could work backwards and see where evidence fit and where people’s stories didn’t quite work. I always love Christie novels because they’re clearly written and relatively straightforward so you can focus on figuring out the mystery without getting bogged down with random, unnecessary details. Of course, she always adds some small things that really get you and cause any theories to be thrown out the window!
The only thing that bothered me with this book was the ending, because it just ends. Abruptly. That’s it, mystery solved, everyone go home. Maybe it’s because I saw the TV episode first, but I thought Poirot would have some sort of moral dilemma or opinion at the end of it all, instead of being kind of nonchalant about the whole thing! I’m notoriously picky with book endings, always wanting everything nicely tied up, so this isn’t really all that surprising. Other than that, this book is definitely up there with my favourite Poirot stories (of the ones I’ve read so far, that is)!
I’m now even more excited for the new movie adaptation. It’s got a great cast and it’ll be interesting to see how they do it and how closely they stick to Christie, given that the book was published in 1934 and has been on the big screen a couple of times already. The trailers look good so far, but my only issue is Poirot – his moustache is huge and he has a goatee! A goatee!! I’ll be watching Kenneth Branagh very closely, I tell you!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
If you’re interested in getting into the Poirot stories, or just want to read a book before it’s new movie is released, I would most certainly recommend this one. Also, if you’ve read any Poirot, I’d love to know which is your favourite (so far mine is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)!