I’ve been meaning to read Agatha Christie for ages. She’s one of those authors you hear about–and L. M. Montgomery enjoyed her–and she showed up on an episode of Doctor Who! So I decided to bring a mystery along to London with me. I asked readers for suggestions and found out I know a lot of Christie fans. 🙂 I ended up reading Murder on the Orient Express, which I’m counting as another book for the R. I. P. Challenge.
Reading Christie was similar, I think, to reading many classics, in that there’s a frequent feeling of–oh, this is where that comes from! It wasn’t a particular reference, but rather a set of circumstances and a way of unraveling them.
Murder on the Orient Express is, as the title suggests, the story of a murder committed on the Orient Express, while the train is stranded in a snow bank. No one could come in, no one could go out, and detective genius Hercule Poirot must examine the evidence to determine which of the passengers commited the crime.
It feels like such a classic mystery situation–a group of people trapped together, and one of them is a murderer–but which? A gloomy manor house would be a little more classic, but no matter. The book is laid out very neatly, with a long middle section examining each point of evidence and each passenger’s story, and then it all comes together for the classic reveal at the end. Poirot brings everyone together and expounds upon his thought process and his conclusion.
The mystery is engaging, especially as it develops and more oddities and connections are revealed. The conclusion is clever–and I certainly won’t give it away!
I know Poirot appears in a number of novels, and I’d like to read more of him. He was a decent character, though I don’t really have strong feelings about him. I do think (in this novel at least) as a character he was of secondary interest to the puzzle itself–which is not necessarily a bad thing in a mystery.
Sherlock Holmes tends to be my benchmark by which I compare all other detectives, and Poirot was intriguingly different in a comparison. He focuses on the psychology of the people involved, rather than the clues. Holmes, of course, is all about the clues, and isn’t that interested in individuals. I haven’t read enough of Christie to form a definite opinion on whether I like Poirot’s method of exploring a mystery, but if looking at psychology means exploring characters more fully, that does appeal to me. But then, I love Holmes stories too…
All in all, I think it was a good opening foray into Christie’s novels. Anyone want to give me their top suggestion for what I should read next? 🙂