Publication Date: January 1, 1934
Length: 256 pages
This is an exciting review for me. I have wanted to read this book for a very long time and the August choice for Read Christie just didn't interest me. I had originally wanted to read and review this in August but just didn't quite finish it in time. I consider this story to be the quintessential Agatha Christie mystery and I can hardly say I've "read Christie" without it. So it's a personal achievement and has taken way too long to accomplish.
Detective Hercule Poirot has had to return to London from Instanbul and books passage on the Orient Express. His friend, Monsieur Bouc finds him a second class car but good friend that he is, decides to give Poirot his first class cabin instead. Traveling with them are several passengers who all appear to have different backgrounds and reasons for travel, as any train would contain. There is the English woman Mary Debenham, American businessman Samuel Ratchett, Princess Dragonmiroff, Count Andrenyi and his wife and many others.
Early the next morning, Poirot hears noise from the compartment next door where Samuel Ratchett is bunking. Later, when the train becomes stranded in a snow drift, Ratchett is found dead and it is obvious the murderer must be on board. Several clues including a handkerchief with the letter "H" and a piece of paper with the words "member little Daisy Armstrong" are found which serve to ignite interest in a long ago forgotten case of child abduction and murder. Poirot has little time to investigate each passenger, each clue, and put them together before they are moving again and the suspect has a chance to get away. Along with Monsieur Bouc and one Dr. Constantine, another passenger, he sets out to solve the case.
I don't want to reveal too much of the story as it would spoil things. I also realize the vast number of people who have read this book already or watched the movie already know everything. But just in case someone is reading this and doesn't know the story I'll stop there. I found that even though I'd seen the 2017 movie with Kenneth Branagh and knew how it ended I still enjoyed reading the book version. It is, after all, the original and a movie is just not the same. I found the ending in the book heartbreaking in a way I didn't with the onscreen version. The ending was a little more abrupt and having to picture the characters more in my mind, I think I grew more attached to them than I did in the movie.
While this was definitely not my favorite Christie book (I actually found it got a little tedious in some parts) I know it is very popular and is a staple in the mystery genre. It's one of those books you just "have to read." And having done so, I can now call myself a real Christie connoisseur. Well, I like to think so anyway!