A friend of mine and I were discussing spooky books, something fitting for October and the season of Halloween. We both have read a preponderance of Stephen King, and she came up with this book as something on her “to read” list that could fit the bill. I read plenty of Agatha Christie back in the day, though only Miss Marple, so Hercule Poirot was a new venture for me.
It is worth noting that I went the audio route for this book, which was somehow both awesome and distracting. This book is read by the dreamy Dan Stevens (British actor, known for a role on Downton Abbey) and he is a phenomenal voice actor. This book jumps back and forth between about 15 different characters and he made each of them uniquely come to life. The distracting part is that his Poirot voice is so smooth and intoxicating that I kept accidentally zoning out on the content and having to rewind to pay attention to what was happening in the story.
I really did like the mystery, and was surprised by its twists and turns. I had forgotten what a fun murder mystery was like, and did have to suspend my disbelief for some fantastical coincidences, but all in all it was a fun romp. What was a disturbing realization was the cultural stereotyping. The Italian character was the number one suspect of another character (not Poirot) and he refused to believe, despite clear evidence, of his innocence because “Italians stab!” Like, what?! It’s funny to hear stereotyping in that way because I feel like nowadays we are so worried about hating within our own in group (of Americans) we aren’t as focused on other countries. Certainly I don’t think there is as much overt prejudice against those in European countries. For me it dated the text a bit, but I mean, they were on the Orient Express sooo it’s obviously not set in 2017.
This book has rekindled in me my love of a jolly murder mystery, so I’ll probably be tackling more Poirot in the future. I fully recommend it in general, and for a cozy fall read.