Saturday, November 13, 2021

Murder on the Orient Express - Review


Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

'The Murder on the Orient Express' is yet another spectacular Agatha Christie book. It was the first Agatha Christie book I’d ever read and from the first chapter, I was hooked. I had initially read it in 4th grade and probably skimmed the entire book, but I still understood enough to be amazed. However, when I re-read it yesterday, I understood for the first time why it’s so popular. Among all of her books, this one has one of the most unique endings and plot twists. While reading a murder mystery, people generally form their own opinions and ideas about who the murderer might be, but in this book, it is next to impossible to guess the identity of the killer. 

The story is set on the Orient Express, a luxury train that travels across Europe over the course of three days. On the second day of its journey, the train hits a snowdrift and is stranded. That very same day, a murder is discovered. Samuel Ratchett, one of the passengers on the train has been stabbed to death. It is quickly determined that only someone on the Istanbul-Calais coach could have killed Ratchett. All the passengers on that particular coach immediately become suspects. At the insistence of his friend, M. Bouc, Hercule Poirot, the esteemed Belgian detective coincidentally traveling on the same coach, agrees to take on the case. 

There is quite a diverse pool of suspects belonging to various professions and nationalities. All of them coming from different walks of life. We have a Russian princess, a reserved governess, an English colonel, a Hungarian count and countess, a loud, opinionated American mother, an Italian, a nervous Swedish lady, a valet, a secretary, a large American, and a German lady’s maid. A rather innocuous and unremarkable group had it not been the fact that one of them is a murderer. 

As the day passes, Hercule Poirot interviews each one of the passengers and slowly a timeline begins to develop. The facts start to steadily pile up. These facts, combined with the evidence and clues found at the murder scene, create a baffling and seemingly unsolvable case. Each person has an almost airtight alibi and yet no one can be declared innocent. As Poirot delves deeper, strange connections begin to emerge. Everybody seems to be lying about something. At the heart of this case lie strong ties to a horrific crime that took place in America nearly 3 years ago. Astonishing discoveries are made and the mounting evidence seems to point to an almost impossible solution. 

When the truth is revealed, let’s just say your jaw WILL DROP. Poirot’s intellect shines in this book. His careful handling of each suspect and the way he teases information out of them is brilliant. And yes, I have spoken about the plot twist before, but I’m sorry I have to do it again. The twist just proves how good of a writer Agatha Christie was. The way everything ties up in the end is beautiful. Honestly, when I think about it, I probably would have been disappointed had the book ended in any other way. This book was very much like a puzzle. Quite frustrating at first, but as things begin to come together, you end up with an extremely satisfying result. 

Poirot’s classic lack of modesty and subtle sarcasm make for some entertaining bits of humor that are sprinkled throughout the book. M. Bouc also added to the hilarity with his almost comical willingness to switch his suspicion from suspect to suspect the second new evidence came to light. The strong personalities of the characters and Poirot’s incredible knack of knowing exactly who to press and where make for an interesting read. Ultimately, this book makes you realize that there’s no point in lying. Actions have consequences and your past will most definitely catch up to you. And if there’s someone as smart as Hercule Poirot around, well then, you’re going to need all the luck in the world. 

While most murder mysteries become repetitive and seem to blend together, this is one that definitely stands out. This book you will most certainly remember 

© 2021, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

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