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Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (1934)

My impressions of Murder on the Orient Express are more of a reflection of the non-stop action nature of modern thrillers and mysteries, than a reflection of the Christie’s most famous work, itself.

In Murder on the Orient Express, Detective Hercule Poirot is taking the Orient Express train when the train gets stuck in a snowdrift, and GASP! The man in the room next door is mysteriously murdered.  Poirot, with the assistance of Monsoir Bouc work to solve the mystery of who the murderer is.  Since the train has been stuck in a snowdrift in the middle of nowhere since the night of the murder, it has to be someone on the train, BUT WHO?!

A good 75% of the book is M. Poirot and M. Bouc interviewing people in the dining car.  Yes, I recognize that a lot of detective work is talking to people, and there’s not a whole lot else you can do in a train stuck in a snowdrift, but it doesn’t make for particularly exciting reading.

I am used to mystery books showing the reader things, and gently nudging the reader toward figuring out themselves.  Orient Express however works almost entirely through the characters telling one another things.  I admit that I read before bed so I wasn’t firing on all pistons, and may have missed things, but I really didn’t figure out the answer to this for myself before the ending, where M. Poirot announces his conclusions.

It was an interesting story, and easy reading, but I did not think it was “mysterious” or “thrilling.”  It is likely that I had inaccurate expectations for this book.  Orient Express feels like a Murder Mystery Dinner in book-form (although I’m sure Murder Mystery Dinners are inspired by Orient Express, not vice versa).  That is to say, it is fun and entertaining, but it does not keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails.

I would be up for reading more of Christie’s works.  I would not reserve them all from the library at once and read the read them back to back, but they’d be fun to intersperse with other books.

My book club picked this book for our October meeting because it’s dark and a mystery, and seemed fitting for Halloween.  I agree that it was a good pick for October, and we’ll have a lot to talk about because there were so many characters.  It was also a good pick for a book club filled with busy people, because it was short and easy to read.

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