- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harper; Reissue edition (March 29 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062073508
- ISBN-13: 978-0062073501
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.1 x 17.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: 123 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery Mass Market Paperback – Mar 29 2011
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“[Moves] smoothly and entertainingly to its surprise conclusion.” (Chicago Daily Tribune)
“Nothing short of swell. [Christie] is probably the best suspicion scatterer and diverter in the business.” (New York Herald Tribune)
“Need it be said—the little grey cells solve once more the seemingly insoluble. Mrs Christie makes an improbable tale very real, and keeps her readers enthralled and guessing to the end.” (Times Literary Supplement (London))
“A brilliantly ingenious story.” (Dorothy L. Sayers, Daily Herald (UK))
“It’s tempting to say that Agatha Christie is a genius and let it go at that, but the world’s had plenty of geniuses. Agatha Christie is something special.” (Lawrence Block, New York Times bestselling author)
“What more…can a mystery addict desire?” (New York Times)
From the Back Cover
"The murderer is with us–on the train now . . ."
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again . . .See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
One of those would be "Murder on the Orient Express," a train-based twist on the usual remote-house-that-nobody-can-leave-or-enter type of murder mystery. While seemingly just another Hercule Poirot mystery, this elegant, intricate mystery is distinctive because it's plotted with even more complexity than your average Christie whodunnit, to the point where the impossible seems like the only possible answer.
Having just concluded a case in Syria, Hercule Poirot is on the famed Orient Express with his old friend Monsieur Bouc, as well as a colorful array of passengers. One of them, an American names Mr. Rachet, approaches Poirot with the claim that someone has threatened his life, and an offer of "big money" if Poirot helps him. Poirot turns him down... and the following morning, Rachet is found stabbed to death in his sleeper room. The only clue to his murder is a shred of paper that mentions Daisy Armstrong, a famous couple's child who was abducted and murdered. Poirot deduces that Ratchet was the man who masterminded that terrible crime.
And since the train is currently stuck in the snow, there are only a limited number of suspects -- a Russian princess, Hungarian count and countess, some American tourists, an Italian businessman, a British valet, a Swedish missionary -- but they either didn't have a motive, or couldn't have committed the crime. What's more, the web of clues that Poirot assembles from the various people is a strange and twisted one (a red silk kimono, inconsistent stab wounds, a man in Mrs. Hubbard's room, a handkerchief, a mysterious conductor), and there seems to be no way that anyone could have done the crime...
Along with "And Then There Were None," "Murder on the Orient Express" is one of Agatha Christie's most notorious and beloved murder mysteries. And really, it's not surprising -- the entire story is a masterpiece of clashing clues and alibis, carefully staged and timed with exquisite detail. A few of the details start to coalesce as the story unfolds. but the pattern only becomes clear as Poirot finally reveals what actually happened, which will come to a shock to anyone who is used to the typical outcome of a murder mystery.
There's also a sleek, lean elegance to her writing style here, matching the relatively luxurious surroundings where the crime takes place. Despite the large, slightly unwieldy cast, Christie distinguishes them from each other by painstakingly describing each character's quirks, dress and appearance (Countess Andrenyi's starkly pale elegance and black clothing, Mrs. Hubbard's boisterous discussions of her daughter).
The large cast also means that Poirot is a bit more sidelined than he often is, listening to their conversations on the case for several chapters in a row. But Christie does give the egg-headed Belgian a few moments to shine, such as when he tells off the future victim (“If you will forgive me for being personal—I do not like your face, M. Ratchett").
And Christie actually does a fantastic job with the characters -- while some obviously have hidden depths from the start (Debenham and Arbuthnot), others appear to be nothing more than cliches or window dressing. Mrs. Hubbard is particularly entertaining, since she's both annoyingly vocal and unstoppable in her determination. Yet as time goes on, we discover that each one is more than just a loud American, a stuffy Brit or a feisty toad-faced princess.
Though at first glance "Murder on the Orient Express" seems like a train-based twist on the typical murder mystery, Christie spins up an elaborate spiderweb of alibis and clues that is truly baffling until the final reveal. A masterpiece of mystery.
Mr Ratchett, an unsavory looking man who obviously has some dark secrets in his past, approaches Poirot as the train leaves Istanbul with the offer of a very fat fee asking for his services to help protect his life from enemies he knows are out to kill him. Poirot, seeing this as a very uninteresting exercise from a cerebral point of view, politely declines. But when the train is stopped in its proverbial tracks by a huge snow storm and Ratchett is killed in his locked berth, stabbed no less than twelve times, Poirot is pressed into service to solve the case by his long time friend Bouc who is also a director of the corporation that owns the train.
Through the simple process of gathering clues by interviewing the thirteen suspects - a wildly disparate lot that in modern terms would almost certainly be referred to as a "motley crue" - Poirot employs "the little gray cells" and intuits a positively brilliant solution. In that time honoured literary tradition of gathering all of the suspects into a single room, a somewhat less than humble Poirot puts on a flashy show of summarizing the case and revealing the identity of the perpetrator in a brilliant twist that only Poirot could fathom and only Dame Christie could create.
There is nothing about "Murder on the Orient Express" that does not deserve high praise - dialogue; the hilarious mis-translation of idiomatic French into spoken English; the less than subtle but accurate use of class distinctions and behavioural stereotypes unique to different nationalities; characterization; colourful narrative description; plot; suspense; red herrings; and, of course, a brilliant solution that deftly ties up every conceivable loose thread. And all of that is in an all too short package that can be read in the brief space of three or four thoroughly enjoyable hours. Read and enjoy, pass the book onto your best friend but, for goodness sake, keep your lip zipped about that brilliant ending!
The only thing I have found in her novels that I don't care for is meeting so many characters all at once. You really need a notebook to keep track of them, or at least I do. It can be confusing.