Shadman Muhtasim Chowdhury
Originally published on 1 January 1934, this Agatha Christie classic has been immortalized in many forms from TV series to stage plays and eventually made its way to the big screen. Similar to the ‘Death on the Nile’, all the passengers on this express train has something to hide. The story might contain the Queen of Crimes’ most improbable twists since almost all the passengers are prime suspects and each of them turn out to be co-collaborators to a murder — although it is up to our protagonist to decide what to do with this information.
The story features Monsieur Hercule Poirot, Christie’s greatest creation, the celebrated Belgian private detective back again with another case along with his elaborate waxed moustache. The book was written in the context of pre-World War II. Poirot drops a lot of French terms and phrases which may be a nuisance for new readers not aware of his past exploits. The book elaborately portrays the tension in Eastern Europe, the rise of Fascism in Italy and the Third Reich’s ascension to power signifying the possibility of a war in the continent.
At the beginning we see Monsieur Poirot at a hotel in Turkey. After wrapping up a case he is back at the hotel to dine, when he notices a tourist who he observes has the eyes of an animal and an air of evil about him. The very next day on the Orient Express, the same man named Ratchett requests Poirot to takes his case implying that his life is in danger. The detective refuses despite the man offering a large sum of money.
During the night, Poirot hears mysterious noises from other compartments in the carriage. Next morning it is discovered that Ratchett has been murdered in his compartment, being stabbed twelve times. The head of the train company Monsieur Bouc, who is also travelling on the train, requests Poirot to investigate the murder and do it quickly in order to avoid a PR nightmare and so the story commences with Poirot interviewing all the passengers travelling Ratchett’s carriage. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes or an admirer of Emile Gaboriau, you will find the book to your liking. The plot-twist of the book was well placed and truly displays the writer’s skill in showing how clever her detective was to uncovering the mystery.