This has been a book on my reading list for ages and finally I managed to get a chance to read it. After a new film adaption for this book coming out last year I felt this was the extra push I needed to read it because I couldn’t watch the movie before reading the book. I wanted to find out what happened through reading the pages instead of watching the movie.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie follows Hercule Poirot after he is contacted and asked to return to London from Istanbul regarding a case. On the train he boards he is introduced to a wide variety of interesting characters all on this journey for their own personal reasons. He is approached by a gentleman called Samuel Ratchett who desperately asks him for his services as he fears someone is out to kill him. Poirot says no however his services are quickly sought after only hours later when Ratchett’s dead body is found in his room. As Poirot investigates he quickly realises all is not what it seems with him beginning to doubt Ratchett’s real identity, and the most terrifying thing? The murderer may still be on the train after snow causing havoc on the rails.
I loved the wide variety of characters found on the train. Some were quieter than others, most likely due to their way of living i.e. maid etc but they still had clear cut personalities, with the louder characters being backed by their status. This helped in making them all suspects because as a reader we only saw what they wanted us to see to begin with.
The overall pace of writing I think was amazing because it always meant that I was kept on the line, waiting to find out who actually committed the murder. I never felt like I was stuck reading about the same character for too long and the story moved quickly as Poirot found more promising clues. The pace of writing is also incredible when you realise that Agatha Christie achieved all of this in less than 300 pages. For all the clues and intricate ins and outs I would have thought it would have been longer and yet the author keeps it precise but still interesting. I found myself almost wanting more at the end even though I was more than pleased with the ending, I just wanted to keep reading.
Speaking of which the ending was so well done. Having never had any real experience with Agatha Christie’s writing before and only knowing Poirot from the TV adaptations I never knew much more about this story than the basics of it being a murder on a train with every individual onboard appearing to have some sort of motive. Therefore the ending for me was always going to be an interesting one. The ending was clever because it kept the reader guessing up until pretty much the last minute. As a reader you got to experience the processes of Poirot as he came to his conclusions and to be honest I love a neat ending so as far as I remembered all my questions were answered and all elements tied up nicely.
In many other reviews I have read about this book I was actually surprised to see some people were upset by the “racial profiling” for lack of a better word. However I never felt uncomfortable in reading this be used as a method of Poriot because not only was he shown to be an outsider to all other individuals on a train but because this was used on every character meaning that no one character was singled out negatively.
Most importantly for me this book was fun to read! It can really be a hit or a miss for me when I read books set in this time. Normally I desperately want to enjoy it because I love the era itself but it can be difficult to fully appreciate the quality when it involves aspects you may not be familiar with. However this book really was so fun. I was desperate to solve the mystery and I was constantly thrown by an odd comment here and there, while also finding myself deliberately rereading certain parts just in case it was mentioned again later on. Plus I actually solved it and the sense of achievement in that really is quite incredible.
This was my first Agatha Christie book but I can say with great confidence it will not be my last. The characters were interesting and the writing style sleek making me cry out for more. It allows the reader to become a detective and who doesn’t want that?