Is there anything more perfect to pick up on wet, windy, grey days than a cosy Agatha Christie Poirot novel? I’m not new to Christie, I read And Then There Were None last year and thoroughly enjoyed it so I thought it was about time I picked up another one of her classics. Despite being one of Christie’s most loved works, I did not start with over-hyped expectations and felt that I could give it an objective read, although after liking ATTWN so much I did expect to enjoy it, which luckily I did. I must state right at the beginning though, that unfortunately, my numero uno fictional detective is the wonderful Sherlock Holmes, in all his glory, flaws and all. So unconscious comparisons were made throughout.
That said, I found Murder on the Orient Express a quick, fun read with an unpredictable conclusion. Christie’s writing style is elegant and easy to read with an interesting crime. Someone has been murdered, shocking, I know, and as the train is stuck in a snowdrift, the murderer must still be amongst the passengers… I was drawn into the story fairly quickly and finished the book in a couple of sittings. I liked how the novel was split into sections, one covering the introduction and the crime, the witness statements, further investigations followed by Poirot’s conclusion. This helped lay out all the information clearly, concisely and progressed the story well. I found it refreshing to have the focus remain on the crime itself and any contributing factors rather than a concentration on every single person’s irrelevant personal life as can be the case in some crime novels. It’s also really great that you can pick up any Poirot novel and not need to have read the series in order.
I found Poirot’s character likeable enough although I would have liked more explanation on how he came to make certain guesses that proved correct. I understand that as part of the genre the climax always comes as more of a shock/surprise the less we know of the detective’s thought process, but I feel that this could have been explored more after the big reveal. I could also have done without the more dramatic exclamations being italicised, I could almost hear the dun, dun, duuuuns and that made my eyes roll rather frequently.
As for the details of the plot, I was lucky enough to go into this book blind, I had seen no spoilers nor had any inkling about who died/why they died etc.. so I felt confident that I could read it objectively. I did not predict the ending, which is always a plus in crime novels and I enjoyed following Poirot in his investigations. I must admit that I didn’t particularly like the ending, it ended rather abruptly and I would have preferred a different conclusion to the crime, but that’s not something I can alter! I will definitely be reading more of Christie’s work as I really liked And Then There Were None; I think I’ll come back to her Poirot stories after I have devoured a few more of her stand-alone novels and sampled a Miss Marple.