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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie - Classics Club Read #3

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

First Paragraph(s):

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.

My Thoughts:

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?       

Blurb:

“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.






33 comments:

  1. I've been seeing commercials for the newest movie. It is a famous story for sure. I've don't know it though - so may watch the new movie.

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    1. You should watch at least one of the adaptations. The latest one isn't bad, just different from the rest. And it does have the current actors.

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  2. Haven't read the book or watched the movie yet. I suppose I'll read the book first... but the question is when, ha.

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    1. It's not all that long, Melody. Christie didn't write 300 page books. LOL

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  3. Ha! The mustache on Branagh was definitely a distraction. I've wanted to reread this book for some time ... maybe the audio version with Dan Stevens narrating. You're making good progress on you Classics Club list, Kay!

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    1. It's a good one to listen to I think. Yes, I'm moving right along with my list, though the goal was to read one a month. Plus, I'm planning on listening to Stephen King's The STAND in the summer. It's very long. LOL

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  4. I read this in print and thought it was okay. I felt like she pulled the solution to the crime out of thin air.

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    1. I can see how it would seem that way, though she did have clues included. You just had to see them. LOL

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  5. Such a classic. Makes me nostalgic just thinking about it.

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  6. I read this so many years ago! As much as I like Kenneth Branagh, I wasn't interest in the latest film version.

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    1. I know. I kind of felt the same. We saw it at the theater instead of waiting to watch it at home. That was probably a mistake. We both decided it wasn't worth as much as we paid for admission. Ha!

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  7. I read this last year and LOVED it. Christie really knew how to write great mysteries. :)

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    1. She did indeed, Lark. And with an economy of storytelling.

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  8. Ha! I couldn't even bring myself to go see the Branagh version because of that moustache! I loved that David Suchet narration though. He had so much fun with all the different voices.

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    1. I agree - he did a good job of narrating.

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  9. I am in complete agreement with you on this book. I've lost track of how many times I've read this book since I first "discovered" Christie in my teens. I will agree that David Suchet's reading of the audiobook is my favorite. As to the movie versions, nothing beats the 1974 version. I really liked the new one as a good/fun movie, but Branaugh was NOT Poirot. I can't say that this book is my favorite of Christie's novels, but it is one of my favorites.

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    1. It's not my top favorite either, Margot. However, it's one of my top Poirot books. I also really like Cards on the Table - with 4 sleuths and 4 potential murderers.

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  10. I have been wanting to read this one again and watch the movie version. I see Branaugh being too dramatic for Poirot, who I feel was a bit more subtle than Branaugh could ever be. That's my feeling without having seen the movie though.

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    1. Yes, I hear what you're saying. It is interesting also that the latest added a whole 'outside' part - tramping through the snow and stuck on a high bridge. The movie wasn't bad by any means, but it was not my favorite.

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  11. I probably read this at some point, although I don't remember for sure. We just watched the new movie and enjoyed it - although I was a bit peeved when my husband figured it all out pretty early in the movie!

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    1. I think I was really surprised when I watched the 1974 movie, but the 'solution' has probably gotten out these days or maybe readers and watched are more aware. It's like when Christie first told a story from the killer's viewpoint. Not sure it had been done like that before. Won't share what story as you or others reading this might not know. ;-)

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  12. I still haven't seen the movie, but I did read the book a few months ago in anticipation of seeing it. I liked it and feel like I should read more Christie as this is only the second I've read by her (the other is AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, which I've read several times).

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    1. From some of the hints at the end of the new movie, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Death on the Nile might be showing up in coming days. Just saying....that's a good one too and a Poirot book.

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  13. You know I've never really seen any film adaptations of Orient Express now that I think about it. The new one has been tempting me because I really like almost all the casting but I'm really struggling with Branagh as Poirot.

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    1. He does take some getting used to. Doesn't do a bad job though.

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  14. I read the book and then went to see the new movie. I thought the book was pretty enjoyable, but didn't like the movie much at all. Kenneth Branagh is just... not my favorite. Too interesting in being the star of his movie to really do the character justice.

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    1. He did have a different take on Poirot. I think many of us see David Suchet when we 'see' Poirot.

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  15. Work was very bad this week and I saw this post but forgot that I had not commented. This is also one of my favorite Christie books, and the one that got me back into reading Christie again a few years ago. The 1974 film version is my favorite. We purchased a copy of the newer version with Branagh, thinking we would like it. And we did but not as well as the earlier one. The mustache did not bother me, but the film did not seem to adhere to the story as well. I am not a stickler for that type of thing at all but I found it distracting. I got confused about who was who, and I have read the book. Maybe with more viewings it will grow on me.

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    1. Sorry your work week has been tough. Hope next week is better. I found the new film very dark and I do understand what you mean about getting confused as to who was who. I just didn't like it as much, but then I've seen it once. The 1974 version - probably have watched it 10 times or more.

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  16. I've read the book and watch the 1974 film as well as the new movie (I agree about that mustache on Branagh!!). I think of these three, I enjoyed the book the best. It was my first Christie!

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    1. I think it seems that this book was the 'first' Christie for many people. :-)

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  17. This is such a classic mystery story isn't it? I still want to see the new film version with Kenneth Branagh (sp?). I just love seeing such a large cast of characters take on this story.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!