Puzzling perfection: A review of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

“But I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose his head and do the most absurd things.” 

This was the first Agatha Christie book I’d ever read, and I was completely blown away. I don’t think I have ever wanted to finish a book so much (in a good way) – I honestly could not put it down. The book follows Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot, as he attempts to solve the murder of an American man found stabbed a dozen times in his train compartment, his door locked from the inside. Isolated on the train with multiple suspects, Poirot must solve the case before the killer decides to strike again.  

The first thing I’d like to praise is Christie’s decision to set the book on a train. Travelling through the mountainous Balkans, the luxurious Orient Express stops in its tracks as a snowdrift blocks it path – with one less passenger alive, the characters find that there is no way to escape until the killer is found. I thought this was an ingenious choice by Christie and, as a reader, I felt like I was closed in and trapped like all the other characters. It was both scary and thrilling knowing that anyone could be killed off at any point – I could not wait to be released from my confinement at the end of the book. 

Speaking of the characters, I thought all of them were perfectly crafted. Poirot ,of course, was an excellent protagonist, being an intelligent deductive thinker and a brilliant detective. Setting the novel from his perspective made it feel like I was his assistant trying to solve the mystery alongside him. Though some may describe him as quite mad and insane, I loved some of his thought processes, including his observations that “the more emotional they feel the less command they have of language” and “the impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances”. Such a cleverly written character! 

To get through that many suspects and come to a perfectly clear resolution in such a short space of time, was impressive and it was no surprise to me that I finished it within two days.  

The rest of the characters (or ,should I say, suspects) were all vastly different and had very unique personalities. First of all, there were so many of them – I was very impressed at how fleshed out they all were for such a small book. Christie has the ability to make them all look so innocent and highly suspicious at the same time, and it was really fun to see them all lose their heads and go slightly mad at the thought of being murderers, or even being in the company of one. Everyone seemed to have something to hide, and I was very eager to find out who was lying and concealing the most information. I’m glad Poirot managed to find out who it was because I was completely stuck,this is exactly what I’m looking for in a murder mystery book. 

I absolutely loved how Christie structured this book. Each chapter dealt with a different suspect, and though Poirot’s interrogation techniques were quite bizarre and useless to begin with, it was clever how all of his evidence was pieced together at the end. Everyone had a different story to tell but they all had perfectly reasonable alibis too – I suspected no one and everyone at the same time. For the length of the book, Agatha Christie’s writing style was incredible. To get through that many suspects and come to a perfectly clear resolution in such a short space of time, was impressive and it was no surprise to me that I finished it within two days.  

When I got to the final chapter, I was more than ready for the big reveal. The clues were there all along, and not one was blatantly obvious. I was so impressed at how Agatha Christie came up with the solution, weaving everyone’s stories together to come up with that big reveal – it was so unexpected and unpredictable. I will definitely be reading this book again and recommending it to anyone who’s willing to listen to me. I just want to witness it all over again to see where I tripped up and where the clues were hiding. A genius book written by a genius author! 

I am not the only one to praise the excellence of this book. Other users of Goodreads, said “it did not disappoint”, and that Agatha Christie is “such a treasure.” Due to the book’s success, it was adapted into a film in 2017 starring Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. Other famous actors in this adaptation include Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, and many more. Upon completing the book, I was very excited to find out that this film exists, and I will definitely be watching it to see if it truly is a good adaptation.  


Comments (1)

  • I have read this book and it is one of the best murder mysteries ever! I agree that the characters were well written and I was surprised by the amount of detail despite it being such a short book! I really like this review and I hope that it will convince others to read this amazing novel! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.