Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express (1934)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1934 mystery novel written by Agatha Christie.

Synopsis: Vacationing Hercule Poirot is summoned back to London and gains passage on the Orient Express. A couple days into his journey, the train becomes stranded by the snow and the man in the compartment next to his is murdered. With the murderer still on board and the train being miles away from police assistance, it is up to Poirot to figure out who the murderer (or murderers) is.


I have wanted to read this mystery novel for some time now but also wanted to make sure I read all the Hercule Poirot novels that preceded it first. I was finally able to complete the latter and, once I did, I started reading this novel. 

While, on the surface, this looked like it had potential (and it certainly had the hype), I must confess, I was somewhat disappointed by this book. It wasn't the worst Agatha Christie novel I've read. But, I also didn't think it was anything special and I enjoyed a couple of the previous Hercule Poirot books much more.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

One of my first concerns when I started reading this book was the fact it was in third person. It wouldn't be the first time Christie took this approach with a Poirot book. But, at least in my opinion, the best ones are told from the first-person perspective of one of his assistants because the third person approach always gives away too many details. Ironically, however, that ended up not being the thing I disliked about this book.

I think my biggest problem with this mystery is it seemed to be a little too easy for Poirot to solve. This had the potential to be a complicated mystery if Poirot would have been kept in the dark about the dead man's identity (or, at very least, the reader). But, he figures that out relatively quickly and, from there, it wasn't overly difficult to figure out the motive (which should be the last thing revealed).

Also, when it was all said and done, all he had to do was find one additional clue to unravel the whole thing. At that point, everything else consisted of people willingly confessing. As a result of this, the big reveal at the end of the book (which reminded me a lot of the movie Clue) wasn't much of a surprise. I kept waiting and hoping for a surprise twist at the end. But, it never came and I was pretty disappointed by that.

Murder on the Orient Express

Istanbul, midwinter. Poirot decides to take the Orient Express that at this time makes its route practically empty. The next morning, when he wakes up, he discovers that an Amer...

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Final Opinion

As I said before, it wasn't necessarily a bad mystery novel. But, when compared to some of Christie's other books, I just didn't think it lived up to the hype.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 02/10/2018, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/22/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
Me too, I agree with you about how it's so much more charming and intriguing for Poirot to be telling his story than for the omniscient third-party narrator to do so.

Have you seen the film version that Kenneth Branagh made of the book?

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