Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Why would I read Murder on the Orient Express? I have heard about this book my entire life, but I had never read any Agatha Christie novels.  I have watched and greatly enjoyed Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS.  This book appears on a lot of “must read” book lists. With a new movie now being made, I thought this would be a perfect book to investigate as my August Flicks Book and Movie Club selection.

The Orient Express is heading from the Middle East to Paris when a passenger is murdered in the middle of the night. The murder happened just before the train got stuck in a snowbank so the murdered must be someone on the train. Who killed this passenger and why?  Luckily Hercule Poirot, the great Belgium detective is on the case. 

Most of the chapters in this novel are interviews of all of the passengers on the train.  Unlike usual days this time of year, the train was fully booked with an eccentric cast of characters from across Europe and America.  Their interviews were entertaining, but Poirot’s unique interviewing style kept one guessing until the end what the answer would be.

I thought this made a good book club selection.  It was short and a book everyone had heard of, but hadn’t read.  The two that made it to book club also liked the book structure with the interviews being separate chapters.  They both liked Hercule Poirot himself as he was quite the eccentric character.  The other characters were also interesting and prompted discussion which was a favorite or most likely suspect when reading the book.  The ending was unique and provided a moral quandary that also made for a good discussion.  I also brought into the discussion the point that I found it interesting that a crime tied into the murder eerily paralleled the Lindbergh kidnapping.  When I checked the copyright of the book, it only took place one year after the Lindbergh case and probably made it very topical in its day.

Overall, I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express and thought it was a good mystery that provided a good source of discussion for a book club.  I think the unique characters and ending make this a classic book that is always good to discuss.

Favorite quotes:

“That implies a detached attitude.  I think my attitude is more selfish.  I have learned to save myself useless emotion.”

“I am not a Jugo-Slavian detective, Madame.  I am an international detective . . . I belong to the world.” – Poirot on himself.

“This was not a man who had to have information dragged from him.  It gushed out.”

What Agatha Christie novel should I read next?

Book Source:  I bought this at a used book sale years ago and finally read it as part of The Classics Club.

Anyone as excited about the movie as I am?


  1. Laura, I've never read this, either, but I'd really like to (and could probably find a copy of the book at the house, somewhere). I'm also excited about the movie. Older trains are so elegant and appealing to me. Excellent review!

  2. I love the books and the movies. I think I've now read them all.

  3. One of my first mystery reads as a teen and I ended up falling in love with Christie's books. I've enjoyed several movie adaptions, too.

  4. What are your favorite Christie books? What should I read next?

    I love older trains as well - my kids especially love them. I feel like I've spent a lot of time the past few years at Train museums or trying to find steam trains to ride!