Murder on the Orient Express

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Travelling on the Orient Express, Poirot is approached by a desperate man. Afraid that someone plans to kill him, Ratchett asks Poirot for help ...

Need it be said – the little grey cells solve once more the insoluble.

Times Literary Supplement, 1934

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About this story

First released

November 1933 (serialised in The Saturday Evening Post, US)

Genre

  • Murder Mystery, 
  • Detective

Formats

  • Novel, 
  • Radio Play, 
  • Graphic Novel, 
  • Game, 
  • Film, 
  • TV

Recurring characters

  • Poirot

Murder methods

Setting

  • Train

A group of passengers trapped on the Orient Express in a snow storm with a murdered body and a Belgian detective to keep them company: Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agatha Christie’s most famous stories. It's an intricate mystery revolving around a group of characters cut off from the world and Poirot exhibits not only the power of his little grey cells but his concern and compassion for humanity.

The underlying plot of the story was one Agatha Christie pulled from the headlines at the time, the abduction of Charles Lindbergh’s son, a traumatic ...

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A group of passengers trapped on the Orient Express in a snow storm with a murdered body and a Belgian detective to keep them company: Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agatha Christie’s most famous stories. It's an intricate mystery revolving around a group of characters cut off from the world and Poirot exhibits not only the power of his little grey cells but his concern and compassion for humanity.

The underlying plot of the story was one Agatha Christie pulled from the headlines at the time, the abduction of Charles Lindbergh’s son, a traumatic real-life mystery involving murder and extortion that had yet to be solved when Murder on the Orient Express was published. As for the setting, Christie had long professed a love of the Orient Express, finally achieving her dream of travelling on it in 1928 with her first solo trip abroad. In writing the story, she painstakingly noted the details of the carriages; clues such as the position of door handles would prove vital to Poirot’s investigation. Several fans, in fact, have followed in Christie’s footsteps, double-checking her descriptions.

Murder on the Orient Express has seen many different incarnations since it was serialised in The Saturday Evening Post in 1933 under the title Murder on the Calais Coach. It became a novel in 1934 and the first, and perhaps most successful adaptation, was the award-winning 1974 film featuring an all-star cast and Albert Finney as Poirot. Other stars included Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, and Ingrid Bergman, who won an Oscar for her role as Greta Ohlsson. The film won nine awards in total and had an additional sixteen nominations in 1975. It was remade for TV in 2001, with Alfred Molina as Poirot.

The story was adapted in 2004 by BBC Radio 4, with John Moffatt in the role of Poirot and 2006 saw the story become a PC game. Playing as a new character, Antoinette Marceau, gamers work alongside Poirot to solve the mystery of Ratchett’s death. In 2007 the story became a graphic novel, adapted by François Rivière, but it wasn’t until 2010 that David Suchet finally appeared on the famous train. David Suchet also did the Poirot voiceover in the PC game. Although generally faithful to the original novel, this TV film emphasised the religious and moral themes of the story as Poirot grappled with the nature of justice, clearly struggling with his final decision.

"The little grey cells worked admirably, and the solution surprised their owner as much as it may well surprise the reader, for the secret is well kept and the telling is in Mrs Christie's usual admirable manner."

The Guardian, 1934



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