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The Mystery of the Blue Train: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Paperback – September 27, 2011
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“No one is better at misdirection than Agatha Christie. She dangles the key to the mystery in front of you and you still don’t see it.” (Peter Lovesey, Anthony award-winning author of Stagestruck)
“The Empress of the crime novel.” (Sunday Express (London))
From the Back Cover
When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, aguard attempts to wake serene Ruth Kettering fromher slumbers. But she will never wake again—for aheavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her featuresalmost beyond recognition. What is more, herprecious rubies are missing.
The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband,Derek. Yet Hercule Poirot is not convinced, so hestages an eerie reenactment of the journey, completewith the murderer on board. . . .
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_The Big Four_ was a rather dismal spy melodrama. _The Mystery of the Blue Train_ is a return to what Christie does best-- the formal detective story. This time, a plot is set in motion around a set of dazzling rubies on the black market. They come into the hands of a tough, hard-boiled American millionaire but are wanted by a ruthless, continental jewel thief. His first attempt to hijack them in Paris goes askew. We also meet the millionaire's spoiled, iron-willed daughter (for whom the jewels are intended), her estranged and indolent husband, his troublemaking dancer mistress, and the daughter's oily Old Flame with whom she plans to elope. Other characters include the efficient male secretary to the millionaire, the maid to the millionaire's daughter, a saintly companion who has recently come into money, her conniving distant cousin, and her cousin's honest and sharp-tongued daughter.
Some of these characters board the luxurious Blue Train from Paris to Nice-- along with M. Hercule Poirot. There is a particularly brutal murder _en route_ that turns out to be more complicated to solve than it first appeared. Clues are misleading, stories shift about, and prime suspects change over time. Poirot enlists the aid of one of the passengers to help him solve the mystery.
I don't think that it is giving too much away to say that in this novel, appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes what we _think_ we are witnessing is not what is actually happening. But I am betting that even armed with this information, the author will still fool the reader. Incidently, while this is purely a Poirot mystery, it is the first novel that introduces the village of St. Mary Mead-- Miss Marple's home town.
The novel occurs on the speeding Blue Train which is the Calais-Paris-Nice Express whisking well heeled folks on their way to a fun-filled winter in the paradise of the French Riviera. The plot involves the theft of the pricless Heart of Fire necklace and the murder of the adultery minded Katherine Kettering. She is seeking divorce from her playboy money worshipping cad of a husband . Her father the millionaire Rufus Van Allen has given her the necklace as a gift. Ruth is murdered by stragulation on the Blue Train; Hercule Poirot is there to assist French police in the solving of the crime. Katherine Grey also assists in unmasking the murderer. Katherine is an attractive woman who has inherited a fortune from an old lady she had served as an aide while living in St Mary Mead.
The book reads quickly and is filled with fascinating characters such as:
Comte Armand De La Roche-the lover of Katherine Kettering.
Derek Kettering-the husband of Katherine and a man infatuated with lovely ladies. He seeks to end his affair with
Mirelle his exotic French mistress by falling in love with Katherine Grey.
Demetrius Papopolous and his daughter Zia who deal in diamonds and have known Poiret for seventeen years.
Ada Beatrice Mason: Lady's maid for Katherine Kettering who gets off the train in Paris.
Major Richard Knighton-Assistant to Rufus Van Aldin. He is a wounded World War I soldier and is love with Katherine Grey.
Rosalie Tamplin-A rich Englishwoman living in France who is related to Katherine Grey
The Marquis-The mysterious jewel thief and master of crime!
Who is the murderer? Follow the trail through the clues and watch Poirot solve the problem!