Book Review: Agatha Christie’s "Murder on the Orient Express"

SHEZA FIROZ
Review
3 MINS READ
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20 March, 2023

Murder-mystery lovers, rejoice - this review revisits the classic 1934 Novel from the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie. Starring her iconic detective character - the sharp Belgian Detective named Hercule Poirot - the Murder on the Orient Express is the novel that the world refuses to forget. The novel has been remade into movies, plays and shows several times, with the latest film adaptation being in 2018. It is the classic ‘locked room’ mystery - on a train trapped in a snow blizzard, a murderer strikes. Poirot races against the clock to solve the mystery, all while being mere metres away from the true killer. 

Plot:

While on holiday in Istanbul, a telegram calls for Detective Hercule Poirot to return to London. He climbs aboard the Orient Express, which is fully booked, but manages to get a second class berth. The train is filled with eclectic characters of multiple nationalities - the American Businessman Samuel Ratchett with his valet Masterman and secretary MacQueen, the Russian Princess Natalia Dragomiroff with her German maid Schmidt, the American lady Caroline Hubbard, a Hungarian count named Andrenyi and his wife Elena, an English governess named Mary Debenham, the Swedish missionary Ohlsson, a Greek doctor named Constantine, the English Colonel Arbuthnot and Hardman the American Salesman. 

When Poirot is approached by the dodgy businessman Samuel Ratchett, he immediately dislikes him. Ratchett had recognised Poirot. He had been receiving anonymous threats for a while and wished to recruit Poirot’s protection. Poirot refuses to do so. 

That night, Ratchett is murdered in his cabin. The door is locked from the inside and the windows are left open. Poirot notes that Ratchett is stabbed twelve times. A pipe cleaner and a handkerchief with the letter ‘H’ etched were left near his body, along with a flat match Ratchett does not use and a mysterious half-burned scrap of paper. 

With only these clues to go on, and time running out, Poirot dashes to find out which passenger is responsible for the murder. In the process, he unravels a past tragedy (that is not entirely fictional) which could hold the secret to identifying the killer. 

Agatha Christie - the Queen of Crime

Agatha Christie’s mystery novels are unparalleled. She can craft the most tricky mysteries that confuse readers. The unpredictability of any logical solution will drive any wannabe detective nuts. But with just as much ease and craftsmanship, she offers the simplest, most ingenious solution to that same mystery. All of a sudden, the truth is clear and the reader gasps aloud as it all dawns on them. Christie’s novels are not just literary masterpieces, but adventures that she takes the readers on. Like children in awe, readers hang onto every word in her novels, waiting for that one clue that can help us solve the mystery before her detectives do. We rarely, if ever, succeed. 

Christie’s books are written in a simple, straightforward language with no fluff. Her characters are filled with life and rarely fit into stereotypes. Christie uses her insights into human nature to develop storylines that awe, shock and leave readers reeling. Her books are like a magic trick - we are left in the dark until she lifts the curtain. Perhaps this is why, nearly a century after publication, Agatha Christie’s iconic characters and novels live on in the minds of the public. 

As an ardent fan, I highly recommend reading this novel and seeing for yourself - can you catch the killer before Poirot does?

Sheza Firoz
Junior Content Writer

UniAthena

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