Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #9)

Published 1934

Author: Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the famous Orient Express in its tracks as it travels through the mountainous Balkans. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year but, by the morning, it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

One of the passengers is none other than detective Hercule Poirot. On vacation.

Isolated and with a killer on board, Poirot must identify the murderer—in case he or she decides to strike again.

Murder on the Orient Express is the ninth full-length novel following private detective Hercule Poirot. There are tons of adaptions for this story, so I decided to revisit the book as I have not read it in years. The novel itself was a lot shorter than I remembered, but I am impressed at how Christie pulled it off. There are clues hidden along the way, so all the pieces are presented to the reader. I enjoyed how this was a very classic whodunit where it’s a locked room mystery with a wide range of characters. There is some repetition of the clues as the characters discuss the evidence, which I enjoyed as it helped me track everything.

There is a wide range of characters from those trying to solve the case and those that are suspects. There is detective Hercule Poirot, Monsieur Bouc, the Wagon-Lits director, Dr. Constantine, the conductor of the Stamboul-Calais coach, Pierre Michel, and the victim, Samuel Edward Ratchett. As for the suspects, there are: the secretary, Hector MacQueen, the valet, Edward Masterman, Mrs. Harriet Hubbard, Greta Ohlsson, Princess Natalia Dragamiroff and her maid, Hildegarde Schmidt, the Count Rudolf and Countess Elena Andrenyi, Mr. Hardman, Colonel Arbuthnot, Mary Debenham, Antonio Foscarel, and Cyrus Hardman. Each was unique, although Christie keeps character development to a bare minimum to keep the focus on the mystery. This may not be a style for everyone as there are tons of characters, but the reader does not explore each a lot. There is some information given, but there is not a lot of time of deeper exploration.

The story begins with establishing Poirot and introduces Ratchett before moving on to his murder and solving the mystery. As each new character is introduced, the reader (and Poirot) begins to piece together all the evidence. While some readers who have experienced this story before and have better memories may already know the end at the start, I was lucky to have forgotten it. I loved being in the dark as I began the tale and getting the chance to relive solving the mystery for myself. I chose the right suspect after putting together the clues and loved how it all came together. I completely forgot the joy of this mystery series and cannot wait to relive trying out the rest of the novels!

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