After seeing the Murder on the Orient Express movie starring Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Leslie Odom Jr, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, and many, many more, I was eager to read the novel it was based upon. I was happy to discover that it was one of the better book-to-film adaptations I have seen, at least plot wise! I listened to the Kenneth Branagh-narated audiobook, which I highly recommend!
Murder on the Orient Express opens with Hercule Poirot boarding the, you guessed it, Orient Express and meeting a gang of characters, most prominently a gentlemen named SE Ratchett, played by Depp in the movie, who wants Poirot’s help protecting him from some enemies he suspects are after him. Poirot turns down the offer, much to Ratchett’s despair, and they go along their way. On the second night, the train stalls in a snowdrift and when the morning comes, Ratchett is discovered dead in his compartment. Poirot is then called upon to solve the case and determine who among the travelers on the train committed the murder and why.
This if often considered a cozy mystery, and I understand why. Sure, the murder is gruesome, and the motive behind it is disheartening, but ultimately, Poirot never feels like he is really in danger in the book, unlike in the movie scene with Leslie Odom Jr. Instead, it’s about putting together the hints that Christie has laid out in the early chapters of the novel, unraveling the motives as Poirot picks them apart, and simply being amazed at the deductions Poirot is able to make in the course of sitting back and thinking.
He’s not the same modern detective who gets down and gritty, instead he’s more of an interrogator, but that makes this book work well. Obviously it has inspired so many other mysteries throughout literature, so it’s definitely worth checking out.