Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie: Review & Recommend | CLASSICS CATCHUPS

I have previously received PR products from HarperCollins

THIS REVIEW WILL BE SPOILER FREE!

Usually, I’m not a crime fiction type of person. Having said that, I used to love Cluedo, I adored Knives Out, and I actually really enjoyed “Mummy on the Orient Express” (an episode of Doctor Who). So maybe it’s not that I’m not a crime fiction person, maybe I’m just not a person who’s read much crime fiction. When Agatha Christie was revealed as the theme for Let’s Get Classical’s November read, I was a bit excited. I hadn’t read any Christie before, but I own a copy of The ABC Murders, and obviously I’d heard of Murder on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express is a Poirot mystery, taking place nowhere other than the Orient Express itself (is the Orient Express the most famous train in the world?). As the title suggests, a murder occurs. A seemingly impossible murder. The classic doors locked from the inside, nobody saw the murderer come or go type of murder. Fortunately, Detective Hercule Poirot is on the train, and more than happy to solve this mystery. After all, they’re stuck in a snowdrift, and nobody can leave the train, meaning the murderer must still be onboard.

Of course, Agatha Christie is not the bestselling author of all time for nothing. Her writing is a delight. Her style is reasonably sparse; she offers little insight into the minds of her characters. Of course, when writing crime fiction, an insight into the heads of the characters can ruin the plot! Little hints towards the solution to the mystery are scattered throughout the book, so the reader does have a shot at piecing at least parts of the mystery together. I myself managed to predict part of the ending, which I was quite proud of. While the reader certainly has a shot at picking up clues, and piecing certain things together, the finished picture is so elaborate and unlikely that only the most discerning of readers (if any at all) would have pieced together the whole story. This, for me, is the perfect combination between solvable and not. If the murderer turns out to be a character introduced at the eleventh hour, I tend to feel let down. There’s no way the reader can guess the identity of the murderer if the murderer is not introduced on the page until the solution is revealed. Equally, if the author makes the identity of the murderer too obvious, the fun is spoilt. Christie, the iconic crime writer, is naturally able to perfectly toe this line.

I really loved the characters in this. Poirot was perhaps the least interesting to me, but as the detective, I felt like it was appropriate that he somewhat blended into the background. Far more interesting were the cast of suspects. There were 13 suspects, I believe, then Poirot, Poirot’s friend Bouc, and a doctor who assisted with the investigation. The eclectic mix of nationalities and classes among the suspects added an extra level of interest to the investigation, as the characters attempted to match the psychology of the killer to any one of the suspects. Despite this book being reasonably short, and the suspects therefore not getting a great amount of time on the page, they all felt extremely well-developed, and I was sucked in by every one of their stories. Call me gullible, but I definitely believed what was said by them all (my belief assisted by the network of alibis).

Of course, murder mystery stories (especially those with 13 suspects) can easily get confusing. I think I would have got a bit lost from all of the times, alibis, and movements detailed in the book, but Christie helpfully offers Poirot’s notes to assist the reader in piecing together the timeline. She also subtly brings attention to some of the most important hints the book offers the reader, planting them firmly in the readers’ subconscious, ready to bring them out to fit another piece into the puzzle later on.

I have to admit I wasn’t blown away by the big reveal, but I was somewhat impressed with the way that tiny clues were retrospectively scattered through the book. Murder on the Orient Express is, as I mentioned before, a pretty fast read, and I think for the length of the novel, the complexity of the reveal is probably appropriate. I will definitely be reading more Christie in the future, and I’m a bit annoyed I waited this long to discover her work!

Do you like crime fiction? If you have any specific Agatha Christie books I should read, or any similar crime fiction authors I should check out (please don’t recommend me James Patterson, I already know I don’t like his brand of crime fiction!) let me know in the comments!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9 thoughts on “Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie: Review & Recommend | CLASSICS CATCHUPS

  1. […] Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie. 4 stars.I didn’t expect to love this. It was the Let’s Get Classical Book Club pick for November, and I’m not usually a big fan of murder mystery books (or so I thought). I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this. A seemingly impossible murder takes place on a train… and all the suspects have water-tight alibis. Fortunately, Hercule Poirot is on the case.Find my review here! […]

    Liked by 1 person

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