Friday, February 3, 2017

Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

Original UK cover
 I read this beat up old Pocket paperback copy with a crazy cover and the original U.S. title - Murder in the Calais Coach.  The name was changed because Graham Greene had a similarly named book, The Orient Express (which was also a trans-Atlantic name change, the original being Stamboul Train:  hmm, the more you know...).

In my quest to read (or re-read) Christie, I think this is the best one I've read so far.  It does not come as a surprise to me; after all, this is one of the best murder mysteries ever written.  Everything about this book is perfect:  the plot, the pacing, the characters, the red herrings, the clues.  Even though I've read this book dozens of times, I'm still enchanted by how neatly and brilliantly Christie ties up all the loose ends.
Rescued from the rubbish bin

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've re-read Murder on the Orient Express dozens of times. I first discovered it in seventh or eight grade, and I've been a fan ever since. It may seem funny to some to hear that I've re-read a murder mystery so many times: after all, you may wonder, the puzzle is solved; I already know the identity of the murder (one of the most famous fictional murders of all time too). But I remain enchanted by this perfect little book. Christie is at the top of her form here, and many a writer could learn from her example of perfect plot, excellent pacing, clearly defined characters, and dialogue. She drops hints galore, and re-reading them, you get to notice how Hercule Poirot's line of questioning provides plenty of hints as to whodunnit. That wily old Belgian was on to it all along. Then she neatly ties everything up, with a bow on top, in a matter of five pages or so. Brilliant. This is one of those books that soar into new heights and break new ground; over the years, Christie drew lines in the sand for excellence and this was one of them.

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