Completed: Murder on the Orient Express

Cover: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie
(1934, England)

I don’t usually reread mysteries. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever reread a mystery before this. But last November, when I saw the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express in the theater (which I rather enjoyed, although David Suchet will always be my favorite Hercule Poirot—and that mustache! I almost didn’t watch this version just because of Branagh’s mustache!), I realized that I didn’t really remember the original novel all that well and was curious how closely the film aligned to its source. (Answer: rather closely, actually. There were some nationalities of characters changed, I assume to accommodate the actors in the roles, and the film added some material, especially after the final reveal. But on the whole, faithful.)

I must not have been the only one with the idea in mind, as it took a few months before a library copy was available. (And then a couple more to write this. Sigh. Must really get better at prompt blogging.) But then I found myself very happily ensconced in Christie’s world. Although I already knew the “who” of this “who-done-it,” this proved no detriment to enjoying the story. It was a delight to watch Poirot work, to see how the pieces fit together, to watch the lies spun—knowing they were lies, and why—, to simply sit a spectator in this particular setting so foreign from myself. For as dark as murder mysteries can be—even the “cozy” mysteries, when one thinks about it, are stories of the dark side of human nature—there is something about the world of Christie, whether visited via Poirot or Miss Marple, that I find akin to my favorite comfort food. I think it is in part a visit to an era past (here, I may be accused of romanticizing, perhaps) and rules and manners that are so far removed from those of today—or at least, from my experience—that is is a sort of time-travel, as well as a mystery. And there is also, of course, the reassurance that the criminal party will get their just due in the end. So unlike the messiness of reality, where there is so often little assurance that justice will be served. It has been many years since I really spent much time with the “golden era of detective fiction,” but really, between this one and Crooked House, I find myself thinking that it’s past time to continue my re-acquaintance with Christie and to finally meet some of her contemporaries. After all, it’s not like I don’t have a list to start from

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4 thoughts on “Completed: Murder on the Orient Express

  1. I read this so long ago I don’t remember much of it at all…except for the train, that I think I should re-read it. I was a late starter with Christie & haven’t read Crooked House & many of her other books. I’ve enjoyed Sayers & Josephine Tey & some other Golden Age of Crime authors.

    1. This is one of the few mysteries where I’ve remembered exactly “whodunit,” but it’s the details I didn’t remember. I read a fair amount of Christie in high school, but far from all of them.

  2. I read this just a few months ago, so I remember it well. It is the only Christie I have read. I was completely mystified at the end, since the solution to the more interesting mystery – why was Poirot on the train? what was his game? – was not revealed. But then I thought it through and pretty much figured it out. I think.

    1. This comment makes me smile, Tom. You always approach books so differently than I do, yet I am always intrigued by the results. And now you’ve got me wondering why Poirot was there…

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