“It was five o’clock on a winter’s morning in Syria.  Alongside the platform at Aleppo stood the train grandly designated in railway guides as the Taurus Express.  It consisted of a kitchen and dining-car, a sleeping-car, and two local coaches.  By the step leading up into the sleeping-car stood a young French lieutenant, resplendent in uniform, conversing with a small man muffled up to the ears of whom nothing was visible but a pink-tipped nose and the two points of an upward-curled moustache.”

Hercule Poirot is on his way back from solving a mystery in Syria when another one drops right into his lap.  On the Orient Express back, twelve complete strangers inhabit the same car as the famed detective.  When the man in the room right next to Poirot’s is stabbed to death during the night – and the train is forced to stop for an avalanche nearly at the same moment – the passengers are forced to recognize that the murderer is one still in their midst.  And Poirot is just the man to ferret him (or her) out.  With his signature logic and probing questions, Poirot discovers the victim’s brutal and violent past which may have more than just a bit to do with his brutal and violent death.

Generally, I enjoy Agatha Christie’s books.  And knowing this is one of her most famous mysteries, I was excited to read it.  The one problem I have with Christie is that she usually holds back some key piece of evidence (unless you’re as brilliant as Poirot) that keeps you from figuring out who the murderer is.  And this book exacerbates that problem to the nth degree.  I can tell you nearly nothing about how I felt about the story without ruining the plot in some way – which is incredibly frustrating.  However I can tell you that I liked hardly any of the characters in the book – save for Poirot – and hated at least one of them intensely.  I sometimes wonder if Agatha Christie had something against American women, especially older American women.  She always seems to portray them as loud, obnoxious, and extremely talkative.

At any rate, if you do like Agatha Christie and Poirot, I can say you’ll like this book.  I can also say, you will not figure out who the murderer is before the end of the book.  Which may cause you to throw it across the room in frustration, just as I did.

Written by Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” was published in 1934.

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