I recently finished reading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, which is a 256-page classic mystery novel. Agatha Christie is listed in the Guinness World Records as the “best-selling novelist of all time (McWhirter, p.704)”. The back cover of the book states that she is “the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.” In 1926 she disappeared and was found 10 days later staying in a hotel.
Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most well-known books written by Christie and was just released as a film. I chose to read this book because I wanted to watch the movie and I also needed to start reading more classics. Christie’s books, including this one, have been translated into hundreds of languages and sold worldwide.
Detective Hercule Poirot wanted to ride the Orient Express to London, but in the middle of the night a murder takes place. Since he is a detective, the train company hires him to solve the mystery. Each suspect wants to prove their innocence, but some are starting to look more guilty than others. By the end of the book, Poirot has crafted a story explaining exactly what occurred the night of the murder.
I was incredulous at the ending of this book. I’m not going to spoil it, so you’ll have to read it for yourself. But trust me when I say that this was the best ending of a book I have ever read. Everyone needs to read Murder on the Orient Express. I loved how Christie made the ending about more than just solving a murder mystery. She addresses larger life questions and does the opposite of what you might expect. The twist at the end is just one aspect of this book that made it so interesting. With most books, by the time you near the end you can already tell what’s going to happen. But in Murder on the Orient Express you don’t know what’s going to happen until you read it. By the last two chapters, I was sure I knew how the book would end, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was proven wrong.
I liked the way the author made each person on the train look equally guilty. After reading each person’s account of what happened, I was immediately questioning my decision of who the murderer was. This characteristic of the book made it extremely suspenseful and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was amazed at the end by how creative and complicated Christie’s plan for this novel must have been. I have no idea how she wrote something like this. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun reading a book. Let me say this again: please, please read this book. I was never really a huge fan of mystery, but after reading Christie’s writing and seeing how well she builds suspense I will forever love this genre and her writing especially.
I’d say that the theme of this book is that justice is subjective. I say this because throughout the book, the past of the person who was murdered is uncovered and you begin to question whether or not him being murdered was truly a crime. Also, Poirot presents the solution of the murder in a way that makes you question where justice should be given in the situation. You can’t really figure out the theme of the book until after you’ve read it, because the ending makes you question your own morals and values and what you would have done if you were Poirot. This book shows that there are multiple sides to every story and that a difficult decision always has to be made when a crime is committed.
I was struck by this passage when Poirot begins digging into the mystery and looking for suspects:
“‘Then it seems,’ said Poirot slowly, ‘as though we must look for our murderer in the Istanbul-Calais coach.’ He turned to the doctor. ‘That is what you were hinting, I think?’
The Greek nodded.
‘At half an hour after midnight we ran into the snowdrift. No one can have left the train since then.’
M. Bouc said solemnly.
‘The murderer is with us-on the train now…(p.47)’”.
This passage struck me because the last line is what initially built suspense in the book. When I read this sentence I’m pretty sure I screamed out loud. I was so excited to finish this book and know who the murderer was. This book is very interactive because the reader is trying to solve the mystery along with Poirot and it feels like you are experiencing every twist and turn. I would, without hesitation, rate Murder on the Orient Express with a 10/10. I know I’ve already said this, but you need to read this book. This is the best book I have read in a long time and will probably be one of the best books I ever read.