3 out of 5 Stars
With the movie just coming out, starring some of my very favorite actors, I decided it was time to pick up my first Agatha Christie book and give “Murder on the Orient Express” a go. I have always heard so much about this story and I understand it is a longstanding favorite book for many people. You really get that sense when looking at Goodreads. I am sure people are going to wonder why I didn’t give this a 5 out of 5 and frankly this book just didn’t hit it out of the park for me. I think maybe the hype set my expectations too high and the book didn’t meet them.
Our story takes place before all of the modern day wars and tragedy, when train travel was not only a most efficient way to travel but also a bit more romantic. M. Hercule Poirot is boarding a train in the early morning hours in Aleppo, Syria. He is on his way back to London after helping with a case in Syria. He decides to spend a few days in Stamboul, but when he arrives at his hotel he has a telegram waiting that he must return right away as developments in another case demand it. He asks the concierge to book him a sleeper room on the Simplon Orient and he has a quick bite to eat before making his way to the train station.
Once he arrives there is not a first class sleeper cabin like he requested despite the fact that there are generally very few people who travel this time of year (in the winter). The first night he shares a second class cabin with another traveler and is eventually moved to a first class cabin when his friend M. Bouc moves to an additional coach that is added to the train the next day. On the second night M. Poirot hears a cry from the neighboring cabin and later learns there has been a murder and even worse the train is stopped because a huge amount of snow has blocked the track and the train couldn’t carry on. M. Poirot then sets to solve the mystery where everyone is a suspect.
For me this book was highly predictable and I honestly knew very very little about the story going in. I just really didn’t feel that I could connect with the writing and I found several of the characters highly annoying (I am sure they were written to be that way, and that did work for me). M Poirot was overly confident and it felt like he jumped from clue to clue making assumptions that always ended up being correct. There was never a mistake. Everything felt so contrived. I really really wanted to like this book but it just didn’t happen.
It is a very fast read and one that is perfect for those days where you need something light. I didn’t feel any real suspense here like I generally do with the other murder-mysteries I read. I think it was well written but the plot was just not strong enough for me.
Now that I have read the book I will check out the movie though. Based on the previews for the film, there have been some changes made in characters and I am curious what else is different.
Here is the official preview for your viewing pleasure.