‘And now a passenger lies dead in his berth-stabbed.’
Hercule Poirot is a Belgian private detective, the central character in many of the famous Agatha Christie’s detective novels. In the ‘Murder on The Orient Express‘, Poirot is on the Simplon Orient Express. The night is unnervingly quiet outside, but the train is unusually loud inside. Poirot is unable to sleep. He hears sounds from the compartment of a fellow traveller, Mr.Rachett; the sounds of running water, sounds of footsteps, someone washing their hands, someone moving about, all keep him awake. He then gradually dozes off.
A dangerous criminal is the target of the night. Out there is someone who wants revenge. A murder has taken place in a compartment neighbouring Poirot’s. Alas! He is unaware of it till morning. Following the revelation, preliminary investigations start off and are handled by Poirot, M. Bouc, and Dr.Constantine.The end of this particular chapter marks the beginning of the actual novel. The murdered man, Mr. Rachett is found to be the mastermind behind a famous child kidnapping case that took places years back in America. This is reminiscent of the abduction of Charles Lindbergh’s son. The initial thought that occurs is that the person behind the murder must be a person related to the child who was kidnapped and murdered by Rachett.
The story moves forward with interesting interrogations that give insight into who might be the killer. The other 12 passengers and the wagon master in the coach are interviewed, facts are collected, further questions and suspicions arise and answers are found. There is a lady’s handkerchief in Rachett’s compartment, a cigar has been dropped accidently by the murderer, there is a lady in a scarlet kimono who was seen running away, a button from a wagon master’s uniform all form part of a growing body of crucial evidence.
Books detailing crime investigations have always been a fascination for many of us. One is always on a guessing game as to who might be the probable culprit. The mistress of the classic whodunnit is definitely Agatha Christie. Murder on The Orient Express is one of her finest.Christie has dedicated a chapter each to the all the passengers in the coach as they put forward their thoughts on the murder. They also come across as important sources of information. Christie’s writing style, Poirot’s questioning, and reasoning abilities all impress tremendously. The evidence provided by the others are enough to keep one glued to the book and go through a sleepless night till the mystery is solved. Christie has given a unique touch to the ending to the mystery. This can, however, come across as a surprise to some and a disappointment to some.
Agatha Christie has her unique trademark style of setting the pace of the novel. The initial part of the book may seem a little slow paced for some of the readers. The initial happenings of how Poirot’s travel on the Taurus Express, Poirot receiving an emergency message to return to London, or how he obtains a first class ticket on the Simplon Orient Express, and various instances of interactions with the co-passengers on the train unfurl in slow momentum. One might be tempted to overlook the facts presented in the initial parts of the book. However, it is only later on that one comes to know how Christie puts forward the evidence subtly in the beginning of the book which our dear Poirot makes use of later on to solve the mystery.
A key player in this novel who adds to the mystery is the Orient Express itself. Christie had thoroughly enjoyed her solo trip in 1928. The structure, the fittings are all described in detail in the novel, making it a railfan’s dream.Written in 1934, Murder on The Orient Express has had people taking the train to verify its details.
In speaking about the plot of the novel Agatha had quipped:
The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.
‘Murder on he Orient Express’, is yet another contribution by Christie to the list of famous detective novels. The book comes across as a good read for those especially interested in the detective genre. The book has been made into a movie in the year 1974, featuring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall and the amazing Ingrid Bergman.
Murder on The Orient Express is once again being adapted for the movie screen and is due to be released in 2017. This highlights the fact Agatha Christie still remains one of the most sought after writer years after her death and also a favourite among young children and adults equally.
2016, marks the hundredth year of Agatha Christie creating Hercule Poirot. This remarkable lady who felt the best time to ideate on a book was while washing dishes, has delighted us with her elegant prose, beautiful settings and logical loops.Murder on The Orient Express is a masterful flourish that will last a hundred years more.
This article has been contributed by Thushara Mariam Thomas, a postgraduate in psychology from Jain university.