Thursday, June 6, 2024

Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (A Hercule Poirot Mystery): Read Christie 2024 March Selection


Publication Date: 
March 29, 1928


296 pages


This was the Read Christie 2024 selection for March but I didn't quite get to it in time to review that month. Better late than never though, right? 

The story begins with a prologue that seems to purposefully confuse the reader. Shady characters seem to be discussing jewels and the reader can't quite grasp if these are victims or villains. When Book One begins, Poirot boards Le Train Bleu, the Blue Train, traveling to the French Riviera. So does heiress Katherine Grey and Ruth Kettering, an American who is also wealthy but leaving her husband due to the problems in their marriage. She is also in love with another man and wants to meet up with him. When Ruth is found strangled to death suspicion is immediate due to the priceless jewels she was carrying. Her father, Rufus Van Aldin, had given her an incredibly expensive ruby dubbed "Heart of Fire" and it is found to be missing. He hadn't wanted her to take the jewel with her and is heartbroken that it may have been the cause of her death. 

When Van Aldin and his secretary, Major Knighton ask Poirot to investigate he finds himself delving into Ruth's romantic life. While her love interest, the Comte de la Roche is certainly a suspect, Poirot is not sure he is the one. The clues just don't add up. As he digs further, he finds it strange that Ruth's husband, Derek Kettering was on the same train and seen going into Ruth's compartment but claims he never saw her. Additionally, it is discovered that Derek was conducting an affair of his own with a Parisian dancer, Mirelle, who is not of the best character. She is scheming and manipulative and becomes a suspect due to her jealously and pettiness. Poirot doggedly pursues the case and as it unfolds he realizes the answer is as far from the obvious as he can imagine. 

My Thoughts:

When I read the synopsis of what the book was about I remember reading "Poirot recreates the crime on the train." I thought that sounded fun. The story and clues were clever and I definitely didn't figure it out ahead of time. The ending was creative and the red herrings throughout the story were entertaining. 

I felt a little sad and sympathetic toward  Ruth. She was shown as a woman unhappy in her marriage and wanting to be with the man she loved but also with a father who desperately wanted her marriage to work out for his own reasons. I even had a fleeting moment where I wondered if he'd been involved in her murder. You will have to read to find out!

Some of the more memorable moments for me were between Derek and MIrelle as she pouts and schemes and I could just hear her in her accent as she whined and threatened. She added that villainous touch that made you dislike her while wanting to hear what she had to say too. 

I enjoyed this one very much and don't agree with some who have said it was thin on character development. I actually found the opposite to be true and I also loved the different ways in which Christie tried to throw in curveballs. It's always interesting to see how each of her books can be viewed so differently by so many. 

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