Agatha Christie Month #2: The A.B.C. Murders, Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express
In Murder on the Orient Express Christie’s much-loved Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is traveling back to London on the famous train, the Orient Express, when one of the passengers, Mr. Ratchett, is suddenly murdered in the middle of the night. Mr. Poirot, somewhat reluctantly, undertakes this unofficial case and begins to interview each of the passengers, in turn, to discover who was the killer.
The fascinating aspect of this story is that the train’s precarious stopping point, outside Belgrade in the middle of winter. No one could come or go from the Orient Express, which means that the killer must be one of Poirot’s fellow passengers. As a reader, knowing that the killer was among a confined list of characters, meant I was more motived to discover the identity before the famous Poirot. It led to a lot of rereading and note taking as the story unfolded.
Christie must have known that readers would feel the need to assess each character intensely, as she, masterfully, introduces each passenger through Mr. Poirot’s interviewing process. It is through these simple conversations that all pieces of the puzzle are revealed, however, I missed many of them the first time I read the book.
Poirot is much more observant and collected the careful clues revealed by each character. However, even Poirot does not reveal too much of his true thoughts and determinations. As a reader, you are left to play the second detective and do much of the logical thinking on your own.
Ultimately, Murder on the Orient Express is a classic detective story that has a surprise ending. It is a very satisfying result in a crime novel. It is a story that should be read carefully, yet often devoured quickly, as readers race Poirot to Christie’s fascinating conclusion.
The A.B.C. Murders
The A.B.C. Murders is another mystery for the infallible detective, Hercule Poirot, in which a bold and brazen serial killer is murdering his (or her) way through the alphabet. The first murder is of Mrs. Ascher in Andover and the second murder is of Betty Barnard in Bexhill, and as the body count stacks up, readers wonder if Mr. Poirot will catch this killer before reaching letter Z.
In The A.B.C. Murders Christie gives you a number of possible characters that could be the murder, and as I read the thrilling novel, I blamed each in turn. There are many twists and turns that seem to lead to many different conclusions, but, of course, only can be the true serial killer. As the story progresses, it can be frustrating that Poirot seems one step ahead of the reader in knowing who is the A.B.C. Murder, but it is this same aspect of the thriller that entices the reader to continue.
It seems at first read that Christie leaves no rhyme or reason as to who is the serial killer, but as the title would suggest The A.B.C. Murders are all about patterns and deductive reasoning. Ultimately, it is the unmistakable pattern of these murders that helps Poirot and readers catch the scent of the actual killer. But will it be in time?


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