True confession time: I am a mystery writer who has never read Agatha Christie. *hangs head in shame*. (I've also never read Jane Austen but I don't think that's as relevant here.)
I recently saw the trailer for the remake of Murder on the Orient Express that is coming on Nov. 10th. It looks AMAZING!
I love those old style mysteries. If you follow me on instagram , you know that my family often snuggles in on Sunday afternoons for a good classic murder mystery ala Alfred Hitchcock or Agatha Christie. (Dial M for Murder is my favorite. Just in case you were wondering.)
This weekend I decided to correct my egregious omission of Agatha Christie from my reading list and jump on the Orient Express.
I am in love! Not with Hercule Poirot because, let's face it, balding Belgians with handlebars mustaches just don't quite do it for me. But with Christie's straight forward writing style.
Murder on the Orient Express has everything that mystery writers today are told NOT to do. There is lots of "telling" instead of "showing". There is head-hopping. There is very, very little character development. And, it all just works!
In case you aren't familiar with the story:
"The murderer is with us - on the train now..."
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again...
This is a no-nonsense Whodunit. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is and that is so refreshing in the current market of unlikable characters and unreliable narrators.
Other than the twist ending (because OF COURSE there is a twist ending), what surprised me is how the characters are engaging and vivid without the normal transformations and struggles. Also, Christie's descriptions are fabulous:
"At a small table, sitting very upright, was one of the ugliest old ladies he had ever seen. It was an ugliness of distinction--It fascinated rather than repelled."
It's a quick read once you get into the rhythm of the language. It was first published in 1934 so to say some of the references are dated would be quite the understatement. But, it's easy to fall into the setting and old-fashion phrasing. The only thing that really pulled me out of the story was a French phrase that appeared several times. I finally just texted it a French teacher I know and asked for a translation so it would stop annoying me.
I would definitely recommend this to my mystery-loving friends and cannot wait for the movie! They better not mess it up!