MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
- Agatha Christie -
What a nice mystery.
I've heard this book (and mystery sub-genre...yes, there are many of them) referred to as a 'cozy' mystery. Ah, a nice, gentle, fuzzy, cozy little mystery you read whilsts sipping earl grey tea in an overly stuffed wingbacked chair with a patchwork afghan on your lap. That does not sound manly to me...Although I may have been drinking tea while reading this, it was strong with no sugar or milk, I would never be caught reading a 'cozy' mystery in a plush wingback! No sir!
Therefore, I'm calling this book a 'classic' mystery.
Going through all this effort shows how much I enjoyed this book. Because I would like to chat with others about it and I need a manly way of describing it. I cannot go around saying I like cozy little mysteries...I've had a similar problem talking about my chick-lit secret. We won't go there right now.
What I liked about this book was how simple it was. I've found the modern mysteries I've read in the past few years are full of horrific detailed murders, overly scientific explanations (relying on DNA etc), and hard crude detectives. Murder on the Orient express had a murder, a twelve hole stabbing, but it seemed almost quaint the way it was briefly described. The clues were also simple; a handkerchief, a few matches, part of a burnt letter...isn't that cute? The detective, H. Poirot, was a logical, unemotional, smart guy...not a hard drinking detective with a chip on his shoulder. All these things made for a really easy and enjoyable read. Cozy, if you must.
The story is pretty contrived, a train carriage stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere so nobody can get away. All of the passengers are potential suspects. This takes away any real 'action', there are no gun fights or chases down dark alleys. Mostly it's Poirot sitting in the dining car questioning everyone. Even though that sounds mindnumbingly boring it's not. There are enough clues given away that it keeps you mind working. You find yourself trying to piece together everything, but, lacking that one thing that ties it all together. Well, in the CLASSIC manner, that one essential clue is given right at the end by Poirot.
I won't give away the exact ending, I will say I was surprised by Poirot's reaction. He solves the case, then let's the criminal (or criminals) get away. It was like he was treating the entire investigation as a game, or an entertaining distraction while stuck in the snow bank?
I did like Poirot as a character. I would read another mystery with him as the detective.