Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.
I had wanted to read Murder on the Orient Express again before watching the movie, and was lucky enough to win a copy in a Goodreads giveaway. This is at least the third time I’ve read it, but it’s one of those ones that I wish I could re-read for the first time. The solution is so perfect, but also so memorable.
Poirot is one of my favorite all-time detective and this particular mystery showcases his reasoning skills. The setting is perfect, a group of people are trapped in a train stuck in the snow, and clearly there is a killer on board. There is no access to people’s records, no way to check on their true identities, not contact with the outside world at all. I’ll grant you he manages to make some leaps in his deductions, but that’s part of his charm. It’s by no means a fair mystery, the reader can’t solve it, but I do love how all the clues and red herrings work together. I can’t say that the characters are well-developed, they’re mostly stereotypes, but that makes sense given the story.
Murder on the Orient Express is a low-key mystery. It’s mostly people talking, telling their versions of events. There is some hunting for clues, going through peoples luggage, building timelines, but there’s not much action, unlike in the trailer. There is some implied danger, but on re-readings that sense is lost a little.
Of course, I’m still looking forward to the movie. And the cast looks great.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. In 1971 she was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.
Hamish's toughest case to date - to bring some festive cheer to a town long dampened by the spirit of Scrooge. In dark, wintry Lochdubh, Christmas Cheer is about as welcome as a flat tyre on a deserted road. The Calvinist element in town has always resisted what they view as secular frivolity, so for most of the townsfolk there'll be no carols, feasting, gifts - or even whisky on Christmas Day!
And for PC Hamish Macbeth there's no holiday from crime - he finds himself hunting for a missing cat belonging to a lonely spinster. Curt and unfriendly, the woman is convinced her pet has been stolen but once behind her heavily-bolted door, Hamish can spot her true problem - she lives in fear, though of who or what he cannot guess.
Then someone steals a Christmas tree and lights from the nearby village of Cnothan. So it is up to Hamish to sort all these problems out - and he had better do it quickly, for the church bells will soon peal on the eve of Christmas.
This is the first Hamish Macbeth story I’ve read and I realize it’s not typical of the series – no murder for example, but I really liked Hamish. He seems like a truly good guy who actually cares about the people of his town. The towns are filled with quirky odd characters, most of whom are amusing. I also love how the locals treat Hamish. Even though he’s the police, he’s on their side. I don’t quite understand the conflict with his boss, but i’m sure it’s made clear in another of the installements.
This particular one is a feel-good light Christmas mystery. The mysteries involve a missing cat and some lights that have been stolen from another village. It’s short and I don’t want to give much away, but it left me with a smile and wanting to visit Lochdubh again.
About M.C. Beaton
Marion Gibbons, née McChesney (born 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a British popular and prolific writer of romance and mystery novels since 1979. She has written numerous successful historical romance novels under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, including the Travelling Matchmaker and Daughters of Mannerling series. Using the pseudonym M. C. Beaton, she has also written many popular mystery novels, most notably the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mystery series.
It was chilly here this weekend, but the forecast says 68º for Christmas Eve and 59º for Christmas, which makes me happy. I am not one who needs snow on Christmas – or any time really. I received a couple of books this week. To check out everyone’s additions and add you own link, head to the Mailbox Monday Blog.
Really Good F Words by Lorrie Forde, along with a coaching session with the author, was a win from Vicki at I’d Rather Be at the Beach. Thanks! I think this will be a great way to start the new year.
Where are you on your priority list? A key question in measuring self-care. Uncover your own customized strategies for moving further up that list as you bring this thought provoking and interactive book to life around your own kitchen table. Connect with friends and get your sense of self back with doable self-care strategies. Author Lorrie Forde invites you to break all the old rules about not writing in books—this one is yours to write in, reflect back on, and share as you choose. Make it work for you!
This is not another thing to add to your ‘to-do’ list. Let the pages do the work and before you know it, you’ll be laughing with friends, reconnecting with your passion, and the envy of your peers as you figure out what ‘feeds you’ and where your ‘weak spots’ are. How long will it take till you’re using “F” words all the time and your cookie jar is overflowing? Analogies like this cookie jar and using really good “F” words help us to laugh at reality and a little laughter really can make all the difference.
I’m always drawn to mysteries that involve the art world, so when I was offered The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O’Keeffe for review, I decided to take a chance on it, even though it’s the 7th in the series.
A dealer in traditional Native American pottery, Hubie Schuze scours New Mexico in search of ancient treasures. The Bureau of Land Management calls him a criminal, but Hubie knows that the real injustice would be to leave the legacies of prehistoric craftspeople buried in the dirt. In all his travels across the state, there is one place that Hubie hasn't been able to access: Trinity Site at the White Sands Missile Range, where the first atomic bomb was detonated. Deep within the range are ruins once occupied by the Tompiro people, whose distinctive pottery is incredibly rare and valuable. When an old associate claims to have a buyer interested in spending big money on a Tompiro pot, Hubie resolves to finally find a way into the heavily guarded military installation. But Hubie has more on his mind than just outwitting the army's most sophisticated security measures. He's in love with a beautiful woman who has a few secrets of her own and his best friend, Susannah, may have just unearthed a lost Georgia O'Keeffe painting. It's a lot for a mild-mannered pot thief to handle, and when his associate is murdered and Tompiro pots start replicating like Russian nesting dolls, Hubie suddenly realizes he's caught up in the most complex and dangerous mystery he's ever faced.
I picked up a book for Amber for Christmas, but that’ll probably be the only book under our tree on Friday.