Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express


It certainly has been a while since I did a book review, but since I finished the two shows I been following, I do not currently have any thing else to post about right now. Today, I thought that I would review a book I finished reading, which is called Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot was expecting to stay a few days somewhere away from home. However, important matters turned up that wanted him to get back quickly. Because of this fact, he makes arrangements to leave, with the help of a friend who is director the company that runs the train. The travel, on the other hand, is hindered by delays at a station and even being held up by snow, so he does not quite make it to the case he has been called back to attend. Instead, he becomes involved in a case where somebody who had requested his services earlier, which he refused to take, was found dead with twelve stab wounds across the body. Now, the culprit or culprits must be found, in order to not delay the travels any further.

This was quite a nice read. Almost nobody had a motive, while a few had incriminating evidence or circumstances. This one, I did not really have any guesses as to who did it, since nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except the fact that many people reported to have seen the same thing. While it is true that we see patterns almost everywhere, supposedly as defensive mechanism, I doubt so many would see the same thing, yet not know the identity of the person. After all, almost everybody is taught things like what Ursa Minor and Ursa Major look like, yet Cassiopeia is widely not known (I certainly did not learn about it in school). The fact that we are taught what Ursa Minor and Ursa Major appear as, yet not very many know of the latter, means that we should notice Polaris, but not Cassiopeia. Likewise, I did have a feeling that entities the mysterious conductor and the lady in a red kimono with dragons were a cover up, but I did not really believe they did not really exist. What I originally thought was that people were using disguises to commit murder. However, that is thinking inside the box if you will, just like a certain puzzle involving a dots board cannot be solved with a box. I am not always right, and if I were always right, I would not be human. No, that leads to what was really great. The ending was more surprising than any other. I do not necessarily want to spoil things, but I have to give some detail on why it was so surprising. Many times, in crime fiction, we think crime has to be committed by a single individual or small group. However, more than three people committed the crime. One may wonder why, but it makes perfect sense when suspicions of a cover up are involved. After all, other than bribery, the only other reason people would report seeing the same thing is to have a connection. Outside of that I cannot reveal anymore without spoiling things. The book was an enjoyable read and people did seem to hide their connection pretty well, but the surprise of a large group was unexpected.

While the book was good, there were a few problems, though they do not affect the quality much. First, there is the conductor Michel. In the text we see him referred to as Michael, but more often as Michel. This creates some confusion. Going by the text, I would have to say that his name should have been Michel. It causes problems because we do not know who this Michael is, if every other passage refers to him as Michel. Unexplainable name changes cause confusion with a story, even crime and detective fiction, where names are important. I have had my bout with this problem in my own stories, but only one was purposely done, as it focused on various time period. My proofreader noticed once, but I have had to catch them in a recent release. The other problem I encountered was a little punctuation error. Really, people think that just because a traditional publisher produced the book that it must be error-free. No, everything man-made is flawed. There are errors that escape my proofreader and I. There are also things that escape even the most seasoned editor. In this book, I found there to be a question mark when there should have a period, or some other punctuation. Now, this does not interrupt the flow of things, so I cannot really put this against the work. The thing it did do was confuse me by making me think that a question was already asked. After all, there is no reason to use a question mark if the sentence or dialogue is not a question, not even a rhetorical question. As such, this kind of error needs to be avoided. Aside from those problems, there is nothing really to say without spoiling things, since the biggest problem that did kind of do damage was at the end. Punctuation and unexplainable name changes may not interrupt the flow, but can still cause confusion.

Because there is nothing that can be said that takes down the quality, I can say that this was definitely worth reading. I recommend this to fans of mystery and detective and/or crime fiction.

What are your thoughts on this book? Do you agree or disagree with my views? Do you have anything to add? Feel free to comment.

Copyright © 2012 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.