Before we even get into the story here, let me tell you that I. Hate. Acid paper. My copy of this book is the 1974 movie tie-in edition, and although I thought they were done with this terrible paper by then, they were not. So now my copy of Murder on the Orient Express is technically two half-copies of Murder on the Orient Express. Sigh. I suppose that it could have been worse, that I could have lost a page without noticing and be missing 1 percent of the book — possibly an important 1 percent!
But there were no missing pages, and every page was delightfully intriguing. This book had been an option in a mystery novels class I took in undergrad, so though I read a different book from the list (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, another Christie novel with a crazy ending) I knew how this one ended. Even still, I was drawn in to the story and the odd detecting skills of M. Poirot.
The story starts off as a classic locked-room problem — a Mr. Ratchett is found dead in his compartment on the Orient Express train. The chain is in place on his side of the door, and the communicating door between his compartment and the woman’s next door is also locked. His cause of death is twelve stab wounds to the chest, of varying levels of severity. The doctor on board the train immediately presumes a crime of passion perpetrated by a woman, but the pipe cleaner left behind at the scene says perhaps a man. But the handkerchief also left behind says a woman. And while most of the stab wounds say right-handed person, one definitely says left-handed person. And, everyone on the train has an alibi for the presumed time of death. Poirot gets dragged into solving this impossible problem, and of course he does, because that’s sort of his job.
I greatly enjoyed finally reading this novel, which is similar to a Sherlock Holmes story but with better showing of clues to the reader. I felt like I could have solved this case myself even without knowing the final result, and I liked watching Poirot come to his realizations mostly along with me (he is a bit smarter than I, unfortunately). I also absolutely love the ending; not the solution bit, but the bit right after that.
an adventure in reading
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.