It was five o'clock on a winter's morning in Syria. Alongside the platform at Aleppo stood the train grandly designated in railway guides as the Taurus Express. It consisted of a kitchen and dining car, a sleeping car and two local coaches.
By the step leading up into the sleeping car stood a young French lieutenant, resplendent in uniform, conversing with a small lean man, muffled up to the ears, of whom nothing was visible but a pink-tipped nose and the two points of an upward curled moustache.
First of all, I was supposed to be reading The Woman in White for the latest Classic Club Spin. Yes, well, that didn't work out. I'll do it at a later time. Instead, I switched to one of my favorite Christie books - Murder on the Orient Express.
I think that I originally knew of this book as a film adaptation in 1974, which is still my favorite of the movies/TV versions. After that, I read the actual story in print. And this time (have no idea how many times I've read the book), I listened to David Suchet's excellent narration. He is my favorite Poirot, but it's also kind of unsettling to hear him speak in his 'normal' British voice.
The story is probably familiar to almost everyone. A murder aboard a train crossing Europe - the Orient Express. A wonderful 'locked room' mystery with so many characters that it's perfect for 'big name' film stars. Hercule Poirot is just the detective to solve the crime as the train is stuck in the snow and the usual methods of detection are not easily available. Therefore, 'the little gray cells'.
It turns out the murdered man was a using a false name. He was connected with a very famous kidnapping case in the US - much like the Lindbergh child in 1932. Christie changed some details in her 1934 book, but obviously it was used as inspiration. And it seems that the author had also traveled on the famous train herself in 1928.
The 1974 film version won several awards and, as I mentioned, remains my favorite. I did not care for the TV version starring David Suchet (a great Poirot) as much. It was too dark. We also saw the newest film that came out last year featuring Kenneth Branagh. It was good enough, but I had a really hard time looking at those mustaches on Branagh. Ha! The scenery was quite vivid in the new movie. So, tell me, have your read this book or seen the movie? Which is your favorite?
“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.