Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Choo choo!

Choo choo!

I read a lot of classics, but I don’t review a lot of classics. What can you say about a book that so many have read and loved? Sometimes a book feels too big – it defines a generation, or a movement, or a genre. This is a genre-definer. Think of a famous mystery and Murder on the Orient Express will come to mind. There’s no point in recommending this book to a mystery-lover; they’ve either read it, or mean to read it. So I will address myself to those who don’t read mysteries, or maybe, even think that they don’t like mysteries. Like me.

Whodunit?
Some people don’t like mysteries because they can never figure out whodunit. Some people don’t like them because they always figure it out. I’m the former, and M-to-the-O-E was no exception. Unlike other mysteries, which conclude by pointing out all the clues I should have seen and making me feel stupid, Christie ends things on a high note and in an unconventional and satisfying way.

If you’re someone who always figures it out, I’d love to know if you figured this one out!

Who cares?
I don’t really care if I solve the mystery myself or if I have to wait for the end, but I hate a mystery that ends so randomly, with some character I don’t care about, or some circumstance that’s too big a coincidence. (Still Life, I’m looking at you.)  Christie made me think it was going to go that way for a bit. Strange coincidences and a large cast of characters opened it up to end in any number of ways. The actual ending, of which I can’t say much, of course, is perfect.

Get to the point!
I’m no expert on mystery or genre books in general, but one characteristic they seem to share is an emphasis on plot. Christie gets this exactly right. I love the methodical structure – the character list, the map of the train, the chapter titles that take you step by step through Poirot’s process. There is nothing extra, yet the story doesn’t feel sparse and the characters feel real – though we don’t know them in depth, they’re more than the stereotypes they seem to be at first.

And so I’ll get to my point: this book is awesome. Quick, easy read but not quick or easy to figure out. Give it a shot, even if you aren’t a fan of mysteries.

Books read: 2

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3 responses to “Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

  1. Ugh, your review makes me want to re-read this Christie because it is perfect. I want to re-live it and watch the clues fall into place and the red herrings fall of the table. I’m making this a post-Bookstravaganza goal.

  2. Pingback: What do you call half an extravaganza? | Reading in Bed·

  3. Pingback: Booyah, Bookstravaganza! | Reading in Bed·

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