Murder on the Orient Express
I had always wanted to read an Agatha Christie novel but with the size of my ‘books to read’ list I never got around to it. Her famous novel, Murder on the Orient Express had always caught my eye. Working in the cinema, I found there was going to be a new film adaptation of the novel and it motivated me to read it sooner. I bought the book and began to read it, determined to finish it before the film was released.
My first impressions of the book were good. The cover was exciting and a few people had told me it was a thrilling read. It was the first murder mystery I had ever read. I was intrigued to find out how it began and to start guessing who not only the murderer was, but the victim too. Initially, watching the new film trailer and after reading the first few chapters, I assumed Ratchett was immediately the killer It shocked me to find out he was actually the murderer. I was shocked when i found out who the murderer(s) was, i hold my hands up, i did not guess it. i was slightly annoyed tha† they all managed to get away with it but it was equally interesting as it was a matter of revenge. When you know the outcome of the novel and look back it is almost obvious that it is all of them who committed the murder.
Agatha Christie, ‘The Queen of Crime’ was born in Torquay in 1890. She married a war pilot. She had always wanted to write mystery novels. In 1926, her husband asked for a divorce. This was soon after her mother’s death and Christie did not deal with it very well. She decided to flee. They found her car abandoned and her disappearance started a nationwide search to find her. When she was eventually found, she claimed she had lost her memory, but people claimed she was trying to fake her own death, becoming part of her own murder mystery. In 1930, Christie re-married a man that she had met when working in the Middle-East. She wrote over sixty-six novels, short stories, screenplays and romance novels. For some of them she used another name. She was titled Dame Agatha Christie in 1976 and was only ever outsold by The Bible and Shakespeare.
MOTOE is often described as one of Christie’s greatest achievements. It is said that she wrote and gained inspiration from when she was on a dig in Iraq. The Pera Palace hotel in Istanbul actually has an Agatha Christie room where she is known to have written the novel. Christie has in fact travelled on the Orient Express both with company and alone, This elaborates on the attention to detail that Christie incorporates within her novel. At eighty-four Christie made her last public appearance at the Royal premiere of the film, MOTOE in London.
Christie created the character Poirot in her first book, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’. He then went on to be apart of a forty-one book series that can be read in any order and still all make sense. Poirot, the greatest detective in the world, solves crime and is well-known and almost famous within the milieu. The novel was first published as a six-part series, in a newspaper, named Murder on the Calais Coach. The story is inspired by some real-life events and her own experience on the Orient Express.
The novel is from the perspective of Poirot but told in a third person omniscient narrator. The narrator allows us to get a sense of past events but also understand whar is happening at the current time. They do not give away the truth of the mystery, yet allows us to know the facts and clues when and how Poirot discovers them. Poirot’s voice is prominent within the story, we experience things as he experiences them, allowing us as an audience to have a chance of ‘playing’ detective, Poirot is meant to be taking a break, yet has found himself, quite ironically, in the middle of a revenge murder plot. Although we follow Poirot throughout the story, we also follow the other characters learning about their past, present and current journey. This is also evident within the new 2017 film, we meet the characters and learn all about them. I thought Poirot was quite a funny, quirky character in the novel. He laughs at Dickens, enjoys his personal space and is present of everything around him. However, in the film he comes accross quite rude and arrogant. He seems to judge people on how they look.
As mentioned earlier, Christie has experienced the Orient Express first hand. This is evident within the novel as the clues come down to the precise little details, the door knobs, the window, the chairs, the dining cart. Christie is very observant and it is clear details are important when writing and reading a murder mystery genre. The film also picks up on Christie’s details using camera angles and enhancing the importance of the items/setting.
The story is told in chronological order. The incident happens and Poirot addresses the murder, breaking down every last part. There are flashbacks towards the end about the original crime, but it reverts back to the main story that we are told in order. This is also shown clearly throughout the film, which I was glad about because I really wanted to see the events that Poirot cleverly worked out, happen in front of us for all to see.
The characters are essentially within the novel. Characterisation is vital for the ‘Murder Mystery/Crime’ genre as the audience need to be able to interact with their idea of the ‘whodoneit’. There are seventeen characters that travel on the Orient Express, and are centred around the main focus of the novel. Ratchett is found with twelve stab wounds, all different shapes and angles. Putting it that way, it seems pretty obvious that they all did it when you take out Poirot, Dr Constantine, Bouc and Ratchett himself. Yes, that leaves us with thirteen but someone could have decided to not do it or not be apart of it. The way that Christie writes initiates that all of them is not even an option, it is so clever. You do not even think twice even though Ratchett is stabbed that amount of times and in different ways…
The Murder Mystery genre that Christie famously carries in all of her novels is clear. The underlying secret of the murder and its history, the obscure suspicious characters, the conventions of a ‘whodoneit’ crime, the blood, the cover up, the clues, they all play such a key part within the novel and really elaborates on why Christie is the Queen of Crime. Christie chooses when and what to tell us at a certain time. The book did not disappoint expectations and neither did the new film. It is certainly a film I would re-read again and again to see just how obvious Christie slyly puts it ‘on a plate’ for us.
If I could change one thing, it would to make the ending slightly more exciting. Someone could come forward and say that it was them, the murderers could attack again… I do not like that they all just get away with the murder. I know they had finally caught the man who had caused so much distress and they can finally be at peace, but all that just seems a little hard to believe. Would the revenge not play on some of the characters minds as they all have big opinions? Other than that, the book was excellent. it met all expectations and more. I will definitely be reading more Agatha Christie novels. Christie has made me enjoy and love a genre I never thought I would like.