For many years I didn't read any of Agatha's books, deceived by the unspoken prejudice against all writers of mystery novels, that somehow they're not "real" writers, as if they stood to literature like entertainers stand to "genuine", quality artists and performers.
I liked some of the adaptations I saw of her works though, and always had a soft spot for "Murder on the Orient Express" so I finally gave in and became a fan, especially of Hercule Poirot. I didn't think her work could bring me any more surprises, so many books later.
So I was delighted at how much I loved this one. It has all the characteristics that have made her dear to me, especially as an author, for these things are sometimes nowhere to be found in adaptations one sees: characters who are basically mouthpieces to Agatha's views on the world and life; the way Poirot's ridiculousness makes him so easily underestimated by friends and foes alike; and in Agatha's mysteries the crime and whodunit is merely a pretext to watch and observe and reflect upon people whom you become more and more fascinated with, sometimes just because you're watching. It's like Hitchcock's "Rear Window", but some decades earlier.
I even fell into the trap of thinking that this time I had guessed correctly who the killer was, something I never do. What for? Agatha always beats me, and this time was no exception. I particularly loved the ending, the best I have ever read in any mystery novel and, to me, eerily reminiscent of Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle".
For those who feel curious, the painting that is described as a blind girl sitting on an orange is by George Frederic Watts and is called Hope because the harp she's holding has only one string left but she doesn't give up playing upon it.