Thursday, November 5, 2015

Murder on the Orient Express

By Liz
Book review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Official FC rating: 

My first Agatha Christie novel was And Then There Were None, and it was fantastic! It was your perfect mystery- a bit scary, difficult to predict, and atmospheric. Dame Agatha Christie isn’t called the “Queen of Crime” for nothing, after all.

Both Charlotte and my partner, Sean, love Agatha Christie, so Sean stocked me up with a few of her novels from his collection, and I decided a mystery novel would be perfect to read in October. Thus, I chose Murder on the Orient Express.

Wikipedia summarizes the novel as follows (I’d summarize it myself, but I am a lazy mother effer this evening):
Upon arriving at the Tokatlian Hotel in Istanbul, private detective Hercule Poirot receives a telegram prompting him to cancel his arrangements and return to London. He instructs the concierge to book a first-class compartment on the Orient Express leaving that night. After boarding, Poirot is approached by Mr. Ratchett, a malevolent American he initially saw at the Tokatlian. Ratchett believes his life is being threatened and attempts to hire Poirot but, due to his distaste, Poirot refuses. "I do not like your face, Mr. Ratchett," he says. 
On the second night of the journey, the train is stopped by a snowdrift near Vinkovci. Several events disturb Poirot's sleep, including a cry emanating from Ratchett's compartment. The next morning, Mr. Bouc, an acquaintance of Poirot and director of the company operating the Orient Express, informs him that Ratchett has been murdered and asks Poirot to investigate, in order to avoid complications and bureaucracy when the Yugoslav police arrive. Poirot accepts.
Murder on the Orient Express didn’t grab me as quickly as And Then There Were None. And Then There Were None had a chilling element to it that I loved, but Murder on the Orient Express lacked that completely. I felt that the beginning of the novel sort of dragged, but I pushed through (Sean insisted that it got better). I would say the book finally caught me not long before the actual murder takes place.

Once the murder happens, it’s a whirlwind of information. As I was reading I was thinking to myself, half seriously, “should I be taking notes? Is this like ‘Clue’?” I’m terrible at solving mysteries, so naturally my first instinct is to suspect everybody, or to suspect the one person one would assume is the least likely to have committed the crime.


I should’ve just continued to suspect everyone because, Agatha Christie, looking to fuck with us all, made EVERY SUSPECT GUILTY OF THE CRIME. Almost every suspect stabbed Ratchett, except, of course, the person with the best motivation to kill Ratchett.

I literally laughed at the ending. It was great. I enjoyed that the novel has humor now and then at various parts. For example:

Such sass, Poirot.
“I DON’T LIKE YOUR FACE.” Man. I just need to channel that in my daily life. #PoirotGoals?

Christie’s character descriptions are both a great strength of hers, but also a great flaw. She creates unique characters that are easy to envision, but she also relies heavily on racist and anti-Semitic descriptors. I noticed this in both And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. In Murder on the Orient Express she type-casts the lone Italian character as brusque, thick, burly, and mafia-like. There is at least one Jewish character in Murder on the Orient Express, but, thankfully, I did not see any overt anti-Semitism. In And Then There Were None, however, the character, Lombard, describes a young boy as “Jew-Boy,” and characterizes him as sneaky and conniving.

To be honest, when I noticed Christie’s anti-Semitism in And Then There Were None, I almost put the book down vowing to never read her books again. Of course, that didn’t happen. I enjoy her writing, and her books are easy reads. However, Christie is undoubtedly one of those authors that I could never be friends with. In fact, I’d probably hate her.

In summary, I enjoyed this novel, and I’m looking forward to reading another novel of Christie’s. I’d recommend her books to someone, but I would always be sure to let them know that Christie is a racist, anti-Semitic piece of trash.

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