I was pretty excited to start Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express because, well, it’s a classic, because I knew the Pink Panther spoof, and because so many wise, well-read people recommended it. I dove in with abandon . . . and quickly petered out.
It took me almost two weeks to read the novel, which says something about how much time I was giving to it, which in turn speaks to how deeply invested I was in the story. . . I didn’t dislike the book, but I didn’t care much about it either. (I’m cringing as I write that.)
I think my issue was that I just didn’t care much about any of the characters in the book, even though I like Poirot. I didn’t find any of them to be people I wanted to invest much in, didn’t find them genuine (which of course makes sense given the plot), didn’t really care if they were guilty or not. And I like to invest myself in people, which is why I do love the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters – I really like Amelia, Emerson, and Ramses. So maybe Christie novels are not for me?
But here are 3 things I did appreciate about her writing:
- Even though Poirot should have seemed pretentious, annoying, and a bit arrogant, I did find him likable, which is a testament to Christie’s gift for characterization.
- I enjoyed the closeness of the setting both as a plot device and as a way of giving that “cozy” feel.
- I thoroughly appreciated the ending because it was smart, honest, and unexpected.
I expect I’ll give Christie a try again although I’m more likely to pick up on Peabody or Rita Mae Brown’s whimsical small-town stories, if I’m honest. Still, I’m glad I read it.
Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Why do you love her? What might I have missed in my reading?