73 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2002
Ah, yes. The world famous case of the "Murder on the Orient Express" (MotOE). It is so famous, even people who have never read Christie know who did it. I first read it 12 years ago even though someone had already revealed to me the identity of the murderer. I've never forgiven him. But I read it anyway to find out for myself how Agatha Christie constructed the story in order to fool her readers.
Christie was probably inspired by the true story of the 'Lindbergh baby' kidnapping. Charles Lindbergh (he who flew across the Atlantic alone) had an infant child who was kidnapped and murdered even after the ransom had been paid.
The background to MotOE is also similar to the Lindbergh case. The victim is revealed to have been involved in a kidnap-murder case a few years back and got away with it. Was he punished for his crimes at last? Was he murdered for something totally unrelated? Or was he a victim of mistaken identity?
The usual suspects remind one of the typical English drawing room murder mysteries: an English colonel, a Russian princess, a count, a beautiful mysterious woman...they are all here. And Hercule Poirot has to discover who the murderer is and why, all by using his "little grey cells, mon ami."
The revelation in the final pages will surprise the reader yet it will not strain belief too much. MotOE has been accused of being incredulous and downright silly but I disagree. Those who feel that way probably forgot that they are reading a fiction novel. I am sure one will find it a lot of fun if only to find out who from among the varied cast did it. You'll be gobsmacked, I assure you :)
The solution will also show the reader why MotOE is famous in its uniqueness and has never been copied (no writer dares to).
Another Agatha Christie mystery that features an incredible revelation and giving an "I would never have guessed that" feeling to the reader is "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd". Both the Ackroyd and the Orient Express books should be in the Murder Mysteries Hall of Fame, if there is one.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
If I had to select a single Christie novel to read again for the first time, this would be my choice; more than twenty years after my first encounter with the novel I can still recall my complete amazement. I strongly urge those who have not seen the film version to avoid it until you have experienced the sheer pleasure of being being tricked by the master trickster herself. For MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, superlatives are not enough.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
First Sentence: It was five o'clock on a winter's morning in Syria.
In the Orient Express Calais Coach, a wealthy American is found dead of multiple stab wounds. The train is stopped in the snow and it quickly becomes clear the killer is still on board. Monsieur Bouc, the director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits, asks his friend, and fellow passenger, M. Hercule Poirot to solve the case.
It had been about 25 years since last I'd read Dame Agatha but I now remember just how good she was. Her dialogue is flawless; it flows in the natural style of conversation, particularly multi-lingual conversation. I'm reminded, too, that her books were written in a time when the middle- and upper-class English had, and may still have, a rudimentary understanding of French so no translations were made in the story. Her humor is light and deft. Her characters, Poirot particularly, are fascinating representatives of certain classes of the time. Her clues are deftly placed and it such fun to watch Poirot engage his "little gray cells." Dame Agatha is definitely deserving of the term "classic." I'll not wait another 25 years before reading another of her books.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
One problem with audiobooks is the dialogue. Very often an author does not supply the "he said/she said" before or after each quotation and the listener is often at a loss as to who is speaking. David Suchet, the ultimate Poirot, gets around this by using a different voice for each character. He had accomplished this in his reading of the complete "Death on the Nile" for Audio Partners and he does it again with a superlative <Murder on the Orient Express> for that same label.
This set was designed for a release to coincide with the CBS dramatization of the classic whodunit, but Audio Partners need not have bothered. That telecast was an utter disaster with a lusterless Poirot, a cast that for the most part could scarcely create a character, and an updating of the decor (among other ludicrous changes) to the present. So the older film with its starry cast can rest unchallenged; but the public is entitled to enjoy the original and this audiobook is just the ticket.
Christie uses the usual "closed environment" setting (an island, a cruiser, a train) to give us a small number of suspects; and then she hits us with Poirot's "gather everyone together while I explain the solution" scene. One of the gimmicks of this novel is that Poirot comes up with two solutions! But for the sake of those very few who do not know the ending, I will say no more. And even for those who do, there is always the joy of Suchet's reading.
I have the CD edition, a format that makes it difficult to find where you last left off since each full chapter is usually given a single track number. Here Audio Partners has thoughtfully broken each chapter into several tracks so you pretty much can get back to where you were with a minimum of trouble. Tapes, of course, stay where they are--and are much better for use in autos.
So by all means choose this as your next purchase, and do not forget the "Death on the Nile" offering while you are about it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Murder on the Orient Express is almost certainly the most famous Agatha Christie novel and may well be the best-known novel from the entire mystery genre. Despite the fact that I had been told the solution to the case many years ago, I decided to go ahead and finally read the book and am very glad that I did.
The basic plot, for any who don't already know, involves a murder on board a train with a small, but colorful, group of passengers. It becomes apparent relatively quickly that no one could have possibly committed the murder but Poirot has no option except to exercise his little gray cells to their utmost in an effort to solve the case. The story moves along at a nice clip and the cast is varied and interesting. My favorite aspect of any Poirot novel tends to be the little Belgian himself and he is in fine form here.
It is a tribute to Agatha Christie's writing that I could enjoy reading a mystery novel so much on my first read even knowing the murderer before starting. The book is an excellent choice whether you are an old Poirot fan who hasn't gotten around to it yet or a first-time Christie reader.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1998
This beautifully crafted murder mystery ranks among Agatha Christie's finest. The dapper Belgian detective finds himself investigating the murder of an American businessman on board the Simplon Orient Express. The death occurs in a a manner that implicates one of the twelve passengers in the Stamboul-Calais coach. Poirot carefully interviews the suspects, all of whom have cast-iron alibis. The case appears impossible to solve, until Poirot, using nothing but his wits and a few tiny, seemingly insignificant clues (including a monogrammed handkerchief, a pipe-cleaner, and a Hungarian passport), assembles one of his most brilliant explanations.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is not just another Agatha Christie book. The plotting is as skillful and ingenious as her best, filled with even more baffling twists and turns than usual. This novel has even more to offer, however: a delightful international cast of characters, an entertaining train setting, and gripping suspense. This is edge-of-your-seat reading from the world's foremost mystery writer.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2006
This was the first Agatha Christie novel I have ever read, but it will not be the last. The detective in this book is the Belgium Inv. Poirot. He boards a train to London, the Orient Express and during the trip one of the passengers is murdered. The passenger approached Poirot before his murder asking to retain his services, but Poirot refused. When the train is delayed due to weather, Poirot, his friend M. Bouc and a physician decide to figure out the murderer so when the police are able to get to them, they will already have it solved. It is discovered that the murdered passenger was travelling under an alias and that he was an infamous kidnapper who killed a child from a prominent American family and changed his name and took the ransom money on the run. This provides our motive and we just have to find the killer and the means of the murder. They interview each suspect one by one and inspect their luggage. They find several clues but as they dig deeper they find things are not always as they seem. There are suspects from various nationalities and economic backgrounds. Alibis, motives and movements are accounted for and then discredited leaving the reader wondering if the crime will be solved. I can say one thing, I too often can predict the ending of a book, but I was totally surprised by this one. I don't want to tell too many details because it would ruin the ending but it is an excellent story.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2002
This is one of the best murder mysteries i've read. Guessing the end is really quite challenging and hats off to anyone who actually does. This is a slightly 'intellectual' thriller, meaning there is more to think about but not too much 'happening' in terms of action. Poirot prefers to trust his 'little grey cells' to solve any case!!
The story : Contrary to his plans, the famous detective Hercule Poirot ends up on the Orient express along with an assortment of fellow passengers of various nationalities. One of them approaches Poirot to help save his life, but Poirot declines the offer. The man is found murdered next day, stabbed in 12 places. The blows are such as to suggest at least two different people delivered them, and other clues are bewildering to say the least.
Further, since the train's stuck owing to heavy snowfall, the murderer(s?) must be on board, making the task of discovering their identity/identities all the more urgent.
Now the story really starts moving, as the passengers give their 'evidence' one by one, and Poirot proceeds to analyse, understand and deduce. He unravels a web of lies and deceit and soon it is apparent that many of the passengers know more than they're letting on and there is much more to it than meets the eye.
Before you know it, the story builds towards a stunning climax and the ending is truly memorable, which is what ultimately makes or breaks a thriller of this genre.
All in all, an expertly crafted murder mystery which will keep you thinking all the while as you're furiously flipping pages. Strongly recommended.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 1998
A crime has just been committed, and it is up to Agatha Christie's renowned detective, Mr. Poirot, to solve this one. This time the victim is a passenger on the Orient Express, a famouse early twentieth century passenger train. By coincidence, Mr. Poirot ia also traveling on the Orient Express, and quickly takes on the task of finding the killer. His task, however, is not an easy one, because, as he digs deeper into the case, he finds some suspicous information concerning the victim and his fellow passengers. The Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agatha Christie's truely excellent novels. Agatha Christie uses her innate talent for writing to develop some wonderful characters. My favorite, Mr. Poirot, has such class and intelligenge. He uses his charm to his advantage in solving the case. The reason I enjoyed this book so much is, it was written so that I could speculate on who committed the crime, however when the criminal was revealed to me I was in shock. The case seemed so complicated, yet it was really quite simple. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Agatha Christie's work.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2007
"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" might be the locked room mystery that holds down honours for being the novel in which Agatha Christie introduced Hercule Poirot to a grateful reading public. But it is "Murder on the Orient Express" that showcases a confident, polished Hercule at the height of his powers. Standing tall beside Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin, Poirot is arguably the most widely read and best known detective in literature and "Murder on the Orient Express" is certainly one of the finest examples of the mystery genre. In a brilliant variation of the typical British drawing room mystery, Christie places her cast of thirteen suspects together with the victim and Poirot on the Orient Express en route from Istanbul to Calais.
Mr Ratchett, an unsavory looking man who obviously has some dark secrets in his past, approaches Poirot as the train leaves Istanbul with the offer of a very fat fee asking for his services to help protect his life from enemies he knows are out to kill him. Poirot, seeing this as a very uninteresting exercise from a cerebral point of view, politely declines. But when the train is stopped in its proverbial tracks by a huge snow storm and Ratchett is killed in his locked berth, stabbed no less than twelve times, Poirot is pressed into service to solve the case by his long time friend Bouc who is also a director of the corporation that owns the train.
Through the simple process gathering clues by interviewing the thirteen suspects - a wildly disparate lot that in modern terms would almost certainly be referred to as a "motley crue" - Poirot employs "the little gray cells" and intuits a positively brilliant solution. In that time honoured literary tradition of gathering all of the suspects into a single room, a somewhat less than humble Poirot puts on a flashy show of summarizing the case and revealing the identity of the perpetrator in a brilliant twist that only Poirot could fathom and only Dame Christie could create.
There is nothing about "Murder on the Orient Express" that does not deserve high praise - dialogue; the hilarious mis-translation of idiomatic French into spoken English; the less than subtle but accurate use of class distinctions and behavioural stereotypes unique to different nationalities; characterization; colourful narrative description; plot; suspense; red herrings; and, of course, a brilliant solution that deftly ties up every conceivable loose thread. And all of that is in an all too short package that can be read in the brief space of three or four thoroughly enjoyable hours. Read and enjoy, pass the book onto your best friend but, for goodness sake, keep your lip zipped about that brilliant ending!