Murder on the Orient Express

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1934

Murder on the Orient Express is undoubtedly one of Agatha Christie's greatest mystery novels.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

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The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.

Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

More about this story

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 where 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.

Need it be said – the little grey cells solve once more the seemingly insoluble. Mrs Christie makes an improbable tale very real, and keeps her readers enthralled and guessing to the end.
Times Literary Supplement

2017 welcomed the release of a 20th Century Fox feature film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also took on the role of Hercule Poirot. Joining him are Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp as Ratchett, Willem Dafoe as Hardman, Michelle Pfeiffer as Mrs. Hubbard, Judi Dench portraying Princess Dragomiroff, Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham, Tom Bateman as Bouc, Derek Jacobi portraying Masterman, and Leslie Odom Jr. playing Doctor Arbuthnot. Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari played Michel, Josh Gad portrayed Hector MacQueen, and Lucy Boynton plays Countess Andrenyi. Discover more about the adaptation here.

The first adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express 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. 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 appeared on the famous train. David Suchet also did the Poirot voice-over 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.

Did you know?

  1. Murder on the Orient Express first appeared as a serialisation in the Saturday Evening Post under the title Murder on the Calais Coach.

  2. Murder on the Orient Express was ranked second in 2015's World Favourite Christie vote.

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Murder on the Orient Express: The Movie

Discover more about the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.

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