Book Review: Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The very definition of a murder mystery!

I’m sure if you looked up mystery in the dictionary, you’d find Agatha Christie there, if not this exact novel as an example.

I grew up watching David Suchet’s version of Poirot and though I don’t even remember which ones I’ve seen, I remember loving them. It was probably my first time ever seeing a classic detective show like that, and I remember loving it every time it was on.

But this is the first time I’ve ever read Christie, and I’m happy to say I was very pleasantly surprised. I love her fast paced. We jump straight to the meat of it, right from the start, no dilly-dallying, no beating around the bush. It’s an excellent way to start any book (at least to me), and it pulls you in right away.

Every part of this gripped me. I loved Poirot and the rest of the characters–of which there are many–and I like the way Christie sets a scene. If I’d have to describe it in one word, I’d say: simply. She doesn’t waste words on exaggerated descriptions, but at the same time you’re never confused about what’s what. And of course I loved the meticulous investigation. Christie uses the other characters, who aren’t as brilliant as Poirot, to string you along, to have you think and guess, to have you question what Poirot really knows and how he knows it. It’s an excellent tool.

The writing didn’t always vibe. Some sentences read weird, and I felt like there were missing words here and there. But that could be due to the books age, or more likely the fact that I read a translated version not my choice, but I had this copy lying around so why not. I was given free range of a book shelf in a house I stayed in last fall – and since I’m always on a constant quest of trying to read more old classics, Agatha Christie jumped right out at me.

One thing that hasn’t aged well was the constant judging of characters based on nationality. A lot of the detective work is based on assumptions like: “No, she could never do that, because she’s French.” I guess it’s a product of it’s time, but if I’d read something similar in a modern book I’d laugh it off as a pretty weak plot device. Christie gets a free pass though, not just because of the age of the book, but because it actually works. Just you wait and see.

Oh, and I tried piecing it together, guessing before it was all revealed, but I couldn’t. I had a lot of theories and thought I had it all figured out, but I was wrong. Christie is a mastermind. I need to read more Poirot now. And maybe also see if I can find that old David Suchet TV-show anywhere. That was brilliant.

Have you read Christie? This book, perhaps? Which one’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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