Length: 347 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks in the middle of the night due to a snowstorm. No one can get on or off the exclusive train. The morning reveals a ghastly shock – American millionaire, Simon Ratchett, is dead in his compartment. Twelve stab wounds lie in his torso, depicting the hatred that the killer had for him. But the killer had not anticipated two things – being stuck on the train due to the storm, and being accompanied on the journey by the famous and highly skilled detective, Hercule Poirot.
Now, isolated by the storm, the people aboard the Orient Express become suspects in the grisly murder. Poirot needs to find the killer amongst a dozen people. But with no means to verify their evidence and with growing understanding of who Ratchett really was, Poirot finds the case to be one of the most complicated ones he has ever come across. Little misses the detective’s keen senses. But can his talents help him identify the killer before it’s too late this time? Or will the murderer, in an effort to protect his identity, strike again?
I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie when I was younger. She was one of my favorite authors. I’m probably reading Murder on the Orient Express for a second time. And I’m very glad that I didn’t remember any of it. It is a classic whodunit that definitely packs powerful surprises and a massively unexpected ending.
The main thing about Christie’s work is that it doesn’t beat around the bush. The aim of the book is to solve a murder, and that’s what it does. It was also written at a time when cultural generalizations were acceptable and understood. So it’s definitely not something you want to read if you feel that such generalizations are in poor taste – because the book is filled with assumptions of the way Italians, Englishmen, and Americans, amongst others, behave.
One thing that I’d forgotten about was the amount of French used in Christie’s work. You definitely need to have a basic understanding of the language, or at least Google translate open at your fingertips to be able to understand a good chunk of the dialog. It’s not that being unable to understand will take information away, but it will definitely take away from the camaraderie among characters and general feel of the setting.
Coming to the story itself – you will surely not see the end coming. It unfolds in an extremely unpredictable manner and, in Christie’s classic style, will have you guessing wrongly until the very end. Even when you’ve grasped a large part of the mystery, aspects will continue to evade you until Poirot himself explains them. That’s why, as a story, it is really good.
All in all, Murder on the Orient Express is definitely worth a read, regardless of your age. You can enjoy it for multiple reasons, and it is a fast-moving, page-turning, classic whodunit written in the very unique style of Agatha Christie. Highly recommended to:
- fans of Agatha Christie
- fans of classic mystery
- those who’ve spent their childhood with Christie (this is an enjoyable blast from the past)
The film adaptation is going to be out soon – catch that if books aren’t your thing. But if you’re even remotely interested in reading, then get your hands on the book before (and keep your French to English translator handy). Do share your thoughts on the book, Agatha Christie’s other work, and any other random musings in the comments below!