Riding the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot

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? 🙂

Other reviews:
Unfinished Person
Harry’s Desk
The Yellow-Haired Reviewer
Anyone else?

11 thoughts on “Riding the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot

  1. Funny, I listened to the audiobook and I really liked Poirot, but I do think a lot of it came from the reader. He just sounded so charming and yet a little devious. Don’t know how to describe it really, but the reader put him across well.

    1. I saw the movie too, and it occurred to me during it that there was a lot of room for interpretation in how Poirot delivered some of his longer monologues and reveals. I think the right narrator could make him far more charming!

  2. dianem57

    Not sure which one you should read next, but you should know that there was a major movie made out of “Murder on the Orient Express,” in 1974. It starred Albert Finney as Poirot, and had Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman also in the cast as passengers on the train. You might enjoy it now that you’ve read the novel, to compare the two.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s