Murder on the Orient Express book review
November 18, 2017
Warning: There will be slight spoilers in this review.
Written by Agatha Christie, a best-selling author known for her mystery novels, Murder on the Orient Express is now a major motion picture. After seeing the many advertisements for the movie, I decided to read the book and write a review.
Part One: The Facts is the first section of the novel. We are introduced to the main character, Hercule Poirot, a famous detective who is on the train traveling back to England. Samuel Ratchett, a wealthy American with a questionable background, is murdered in his room as the Orient Express stops in its tracks due to a snowdrift. Bouc, director of the Compagnie Wagon Lits and an old friend of Poirot, insists that he help solve this case and catch the murderer before the train reaches its destination. After confirming that the murderer is still on the train, the scene is set and Poirot makes note of its passengers. After examining the crime scene, Poirot discovers clues and facts as he interrogates the people on the train.
In my opinion, the novel starts out a little slow, but it gives the readers an insight into Hercule Poirot’s character and builds anticipation for the coming crime. Poirot’s appearance is somewhat comedic because of his large, curled mustache. He is described as “the sort of little man one could never take seriously.” In contrast, Christie outlines the fact that Poirot is very observant, showing his analysis of each character as they are introduced in the book, which may later prove useful for readers to come to a better understanding of the reasoning and logic behind his conclusions.
Part Two: The Evidence is the second part of this novel. Each chapter focuses on one passenger or suspect. Poirot interviews each of these twelve passengers, one by one, and information is slowly pieced together. We are given background information on each passenger and reasons to either suspect or not suspect them, as they tell their side of the story. An illustration of the layout of the train is also provided, which I found useful for keeping track of each passenger’s location. Although it is suggested that some passengers are clearly innocent and some are hiding something, it is still difficult to say for sure who the murderer is.
Each character has a very distinct personality and way of speaking. Some seem more suspicious than others. None of these characters could be called “side-characters” or less important than the other, as they all seem to play some role of significance in either providing clues for Poirot or an alibi for another character. Although similar information is described and the same night is reviewed in each interrogation, it did not seem repetitive, with the different characters’ attitudes and perspectives.
Part Three: Hercule Poirot Sits Back and Thinks is final part of the novel. Poirot continues his investigation. After hearing the stories of all the passengers, he makes some observations regarding his clues and now has a lead.
To conclude, I thought the book was well written. It included aspects of French and had a variety of different and admirable characters. Its constant turns of events kept the story interesting.