Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10), by Agatha Christie

Nine stars

All aboard! Perhaps one of Agatha Christie’s most popular books in the Hercule Poirot series, this is one novel I have been eager to reach in my exploration of the collection. Christie excels in this story, offering a deeper and more complex mystery that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats. I can see why it got so much hype, as it is well well written and offers the reader an in-depth look into the analytical brain of Poirot. If there are other books int he series of this caliber, I am eager to find them, as Christie had me from the opening paragraph.

As the Orient Express makes its way across Europe, a snowstorm creates havoc. The passenger train, full of people from all over the world, is stuck in the Balkans with no clear guarantee of moving anytime. By morning, the luxury liner has more than snow to contend with, as Samuel Edward Ratchett is found murdered in his private compartment. While many of the passengers are in a panic, one of them is ready to lend an hand to find the murderer. Hercule Poirot is on holiday, having hoped to enjoy his trip from Istanbul to London.

The narrative develops and the reader learns much about the victim, many of the suspects (surely, it has to be one of the passengers), and the clues that Poirot is able to deduce throughout the investigation. Ratchett was not a popular man, having been responsible for a crime back in America. All that being said, there is surely a deeper motive for at least one of the suspects aboard the Orient Express.

By the latter portion o the novel, Poirot is narrowing the list of potential killers and runs through some of the suspects a second time. He is almost ready to finger someone, but a twist in the tale takes things in a new direction and leaves the reader gasping by the end. Who killed Samuel Edward Ratchett and for what reason? All will be revealed in time, though some will surely wish the story could have gone on forever, with its gripping aspects. Agatha Christie at her best!

The series finds new ways off getting better with each passing novel and I cannot devour them fast enough. Poirot makes a wonderful impact yet again as the narrative flows with ease. I would say that this was my favourite book to date, pulling on all the best parts of a mystery novel and keeps the reader guessing until the final page turn. I cannot wait to see what is to come in this sensational series.

Poirot shows how great a character he is and presents himself in top form throughout the book. His ego, while usually front and centre, appeared to be somewhat muted, which made for a more enjoyable read. With little backstory on which to base the character, Poirot lives in the present and uses his interactions to add depth to his personality. His sleuthing in this piece is some of the best and most on point, leaving me to hope there are more like this to come.

Christie delivers her most sensational novel to date, providing readers with a stunning mystery, well worth the praise it has received over the years. Christie’s writing is free from the extemporaneous details found in many books that supersaturated the genre to date. Strong narrative aspects provide a strong foundation for a novel that has so much going for it. Wonderful characters prove to be the cornerstone of this piece, which is full of personalities that will either impress or anger the reader. I could not get enough of the plot twists and surprise ending. I cannot wait to get my hands on a movie version of this to see how it compares. I’ll take a short break from Poirot, but will return, energized and ready for more!

Kudos, Dame Christie, for your most intense novel to date. I am super impressed.