Book Review #6 — Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder_on_the_Orient_Express_First_Edition_Cover_1934So, although I promised to upload this on the same day I have inevitably failed you. It takes me a long time to put these posts together, and as I have been pretty low energy recently (cough mono cough) I decided to take a little break. Then work piled up and I moved back to school for my last year of college (yikes) so here we are now.

 

Rating

Oh snap. I feel that I must justify my lowest score to date. While I did greatly enjoy reading Murder on the Orient Express, there was a point early in the novel where I realized it just did not add up. I could not compare this to the other great pieces of literature that I have picked apart for the sake of this project. As a huge fan of Agatha Christie, most especially of her Marple books and And Then There Were None, I had high expectations for Murder on the Orient Express. Like Christie’s other work, it was engrossing and fun, but it just did not have the same literary value as And Then There Were None. To prove this to myself, after finishing this novel I immediately picked up And Then There Were None and devoured it. The characters were more complex, the story more believable (if fantastical), and the pacing quicker.

The premise of the novel immediately intrigued me. A group of seeming strangers trapped on a train when a murder occurs. A small cast of just twelve where one must be the murderer. Somehow, although all of the pieces fit together, they did not set off sparks in the way I imagined they would.

I mainly put this down to the pacing and the main character. Hercule Poirot, while undoubtedly popular, is just not a very interesting narrator. He comes off a little full of himself, a trait which I do not enjoy. His interactions with Monsieur Bouc always came off as him purposefully confusing the other in order to make himself look more intelligent by comparison. An ongoing dialogue of “Ah, how could you never see that? It is obvious!”

The murder itself is presented wonderfully. I love murder mysteries and I always enjoy the examination of the crime scene and the medical exam of the body. These cold facts offer data, which I enjoy observing and analyzing. However, in this story the data only proves contradictory and illogical. It is in the emotional and personal reading of the characters on the train from which Poirot solves the case. I must say I thought the Daisy Armstrong story, while sad and obviously based off the Lindbergh baby, was too horrific. It made Ratchet completely unsympathetic and one dimensional.

One thing the story does do well is show the rippling effects of a tragedy. The death of Daisy Armstrong and of those closest to her brings together an odd assortment of people filled with grief and rage strong enough to stab a man twelve times successively.

The conclusion is neat, and I must say that I did not see it coming at all and enjoyed it thoroughly. I was surprised by the decision of Monsieur Bouc, Dr. Constantine, and Poirot himself to not punish the murderers. Typically, Christie’s crime solvers are adamant keepers of justice, unwilling to sweep murder under the rug. However, it just seems an easier ending if all twelve train passengers are not to be sent to court and most likely hanged.

Favorite Scene:

I have already hinted at this, but I just loved the initial forensic reading of the body and crime scene. The analysis of the stab wounds and the pieces of uniforms and other hints sent me in a tizzy of excited curiosity. I generally do not seriously attempt to solve the crimes before the main character solves them, I believe it is more fun to be confused and greatly admire when an author can really keep the reader guessing. At this point in the novel I was just so excited at how these irregularities of the crime scene would be resolved.

Book #7: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Another classic high school read that I managed to slip past. I have heard that this novel is more enjoyable as a teenager, where you can connect with Holden’s whininess more, but oh well. I will probably find him incredibly annoying, but I will try not to let this cloud my judgement of the book. I already know a decent amount about this book, that the main character is a teenager, that he hires a prostitute, something about a red fox hat, so I’m excited for all the pieces to come together!

 

Onward!

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