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When Hercule Poirot boards the Orient Express in Istanbul, there can only be one outcome – someone is about to be murdered! You or I would have known that, of course, and would have hastily rearranged our travel plans, but the fourteen other passengers obviously hadn’t read any of the previous books. American businessman Mr Ratchett has been receiving threatening letters and tells Poirot he fears for his life. And the following day, he’s found dead – stabbed 12 times…
This unabridged reading of one of Agatha Christie’s best-known and best-loved books is great fun. David Suchet, the perfect TV Poirot, here gets to show off the amazing range of his acting talent. There are about 15 characters in the book, half of them women, from a variety of different countries and Suchet manages to sustain a different voice and characterisation for each. Yes, occasionally he goes a bit OTT (the Russian Princess for instance) but that adds to the enjoyment – Suchet understands that Christie’s books are first and foremost light-hearted fun.
Christie shows off her usual winning formula here – a baffling crime, a limited number of suspects, each interviewed by Poirot, and then the dénouement as Poirot reveals both murderer and method. What stops the books from becoming repetitive is that there is usually an unexpected twist and this book is no exception. Once you know whodunit, it’s easy to look back and see that Christie, more perhaps than any other crime-writer, plays fair with the reader – all the clues are there, we see everything Poirot sees, but can we work it out before he does?
I downloaded the audio book from Audible – but discs or download this is a first-rate reading of a deserved classic of the mystery genre. Enjoy!
(Am I the only one who wonders if Poirot is really a secret serial killer with a good line in fitting people up for his own crimes? Which do you think would survive if Poirot and Miss Marple spent a week in the same hotel?)