Wow. Wow. Wow.
I have never read an Agatha Christie book before. I know, shoot me.
I have seen the movie version of Death on the Nile and have seen Agatha Christie interact with the Doctor (from Doctor Who) before.
So, I was pretty excited to read one of her best known novels.
As always, because it is one of the books I have to teach, I wanted to put tabs in it to take notes. However, out of the 300+ page book, I have only 1 tab. It was that thrilling and that engaging. I just couldn’t put it down!
The plot is simple: Detective Poirot is a passenger on the Orient Express in the cab with 1st and 2nd class passengers. One of them is murdered int he night and he has to figure out which of the passengers does it. But here is the tricky part–he is stabbed more than 10 times, only 3 of which actually do any damage. Is it a man or a woman? One or more? There are also two clues left: a silk monogrammed handkerchief and a pipe cleaner. Is it man or woman? One or two murderers? What about the strange valet passengers have seen ghosting about and sneaky woman in a red dragon kimono? Are the murderers dumb or super genius? All this Poirot has to figure out.
I love all the clues Christie gives us. You really aren’t ever sure who did the murder. You think one way, then the very next chapter, another way! There are also many characters. Just think how organized Christie must have been to have remembered the personalities of all of them and how they all would react during an interrogation! All keep their character and never become weak. Christie did a fantastic job with that!
The hardest part is because Detective Poirot is Belgian, he speaks a lot of French and uses and lot of French phrases. Some I could pick out due to context clues, or the roots of the words. But others, I had to use Google Translate. Christie was a British author and most British know the basics of the French language, just due to culture. So, it would make sense for her to assume her readers would understand.
One thing that I did really like about this book is how often Christie pokes fun at the social foibles of her own culture–the British. It is quite funny. She also seems to have an affinity to America. She did visit it in her life, so it must have stuck with her as much as Wales has stuck with me. Almost all her characters are asked if they’ve ever been to America as part of the interrogation, and if the characters hadn’t been, they all say they “wish to visit.”