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Murder on the Orient Express – Book review

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
(Published in 1934).

A passenger is found dead on the Orient Express. Stabbed twelve times. Thankfully, Detective Hercule Poirot is aboard the train and solves the mystery with the help of his friends M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine.

What can I say about this book without giving too much away?
First, let me start by saying I didn’t read, but I listened to Murder on the Orient Express. I chose the most recent audiobook version narrated by Sir Kenneth Branagh, because… well, I love Kenneth Branagh! And my compliments to him for switching so smoothly between various accents the entire time. It was very pleasant to listen to.

There’s not much to say about the story itself, because almost everything that can be said will give something away. It’s not only the big solution at the end that should remain a surprise to new readers, but also the identity of the murdered passenger and the clues and contradictions that are revealed throughout the story.

One thing I would like to share: It becomes clear when Poirot finds out more about the other passengers (/ the suspects) and their history and relationship with one another that there’s something seemingly very coincidental going on. I hoped that it wouldn’t actually turn out to be a mere coincidence, because that would’ve made the story quite unrealistic. Thankfully, it was in fact the key to solving the mystery.

Out of all the characters, my favourite one is Mrs. Hubbard, simply because she can’t seem to go two seconds without mentioning her daughter. It almost makes her sound like an American version of Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances who always talks about her sister Violet (the one with the Mercedes, swimming pool, and room for a pony). It made her a very amusing character, especially because of the way Kenneth Branagh delivered her lines.

The solution to the mystery was rewarding and I was surprised by the decision Poirot (and his two friends) made regarding what they should tell the police. I understand the decision, but it’s an interesting one, because it leaves enough to discuss about justice and morals.

All in all, it was a good book. It isn’t the best one I’ve ever read, but that’s also because I don’t normally read whodunits. Generally, I tend to go for stories with a bit more going on than for a story like this that’s focused on one single place and on a lot of dialogue. I can see the appeal of this kind of writing style and of wanting to solve the mystery though. And I’m glad I read it, because if you’re gonna go outside your comfort zone and read a book you wouldn’t normally read, it’s nice to do it with a book that’s this well written and satisfying (and, in this case, wonderfully narrated).

4 out of 5 stars.

This review can also be found on Goodreads:

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