One of Agatha Christie’s most well-known novels in the Hercule Poirot series of books (Guardian review), Murder on the Orient Express, takes place on the world-famous train line of the same name and was originally published in 1934. The plot centers around the murder of one man who is found stabbed to death one morning as the train is delayed in heavy snow. The victim, an elderly American who calls himself Samuel Ratchett, had previously tried to hire Poirot in order to protect him as he believed his life was in danger. Poirot, however, declines the task, finding that he has an innate dislike of the man.
The improbable nature of the killing is a testament to Agatha Christie’s ability to write a truly classic crime novel that has the power to keep its reader glued to the pages from start to finish. As Poirot begins the painstaking task of interviewing all of the train passengers, all of whom he considers to be suspects, the complex nature of their lives is slowly revealed, and all their lives are shown to be interwoven in one way or another, with each of them blaming the victim for the death of a child they were connected to.
The great reveal at the end of the book is that unlike in many other crime novels, there isn’t simply one perpetrator and its shown that everyone who had any connection to Samuel Ratchett participated in the man’s murder, it’s a great twist and end to a book and certainly played a role in ensure that this book remains one of the highest rated crime novels of all time.
Murder on the Orient Express is certainly a must read for anyone who loves great crime fiction. Of course, anything written by Agatha Christie could be called a great crime novel, if you’re new to her writing then starting with this book is a good idea.
Over the years there’s been a number of movie and TV adaptations of this highly acclaimed book, but none of them have quite been able to match the thrilling nature of the book itself. So, if you’re looking to start reading one of the most well-known classic crime novels, be sure to grab a copy of Murder on the Orient Express.