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Reading Lists

Stories Set on Transport

To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers - in fact, to see life.
Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

Written by Agatha Christie expert Chris Chan

Agatha Christie books are great to read if you’re on a trip, or simply dreaming about one. Fittingly, several of her books are set on modes of transport. They provide a unique take on the genre of “locked-room mystery” and take readers on an adventurous mystery too. Here are some books about travelling, which you can enjoy from wherever you are in the world right now.

The Mystery of the Blue Train
“Trust the train,” Poirot says in this novel. In this expansion of Agatha Christie’s short story 'The Plymouth Express,' Poirot is enjoying a trip when a beautiful heiress is strangled and her magnificent ruby, the Heart of Fire, is stolen. Is a master jewel thief behind it, or is her estranged husband guilty? Or is there some other explanation? As love triangles expand into quadrangles, and even threaten to reach pentangles, the situation becomes increasingly muddled. Poirot must investigate the case.

Murder on the Orient Express
In this beloved story, Poirot is travelling home from the Middle East, riding the world’s most famous luxury train. Surrounded by a diverse collection of colourful characters, Poirot is offered a lucrative job protecting an odious man. Poirot refuses to play bodyguard, and soon after the Orient Express runs into a snowdrift, his would-be employer is fatally stabbed. Poirot must interview over a dozen suspects to discover who is responsible for this brutal attack.

Death in the Clouds
In the early days of air travel, passengers had to deal with all sorts of inconveniences. Turbulence, cramped conditions, wasps and of course, the occasional poisoned dart... When Madame Giselle is killed with such a dart, and the blowpipe is found near Poirot’s seat, the Belgian detective becomes the prime suspect. When he comes unsettlingly close to false arrest and humiliation, Poirot must find the true killer amongst the plane’s passengers in order to restore his own reputation.

A woman had been murdered—they could rule out any question of suicide or accident—in mid-air, in a small enclosed space. There was no question of any outside person having committed the crime. The murderer or murderers must be of necessity one of the witnesses they had heard this morning.
Death in the Clouds, Agatha Christie

Death on the Nile

In this famous story, a love triangle has gone horribly wrong. When a wealthy woman marries her ex-best friend’s fiancé, it leads to the jilted woman stalking the honeymooning couple wherever they go. By the time they reach an Egyptian cruise ship, there are a bunch of people with a motive for murder. Soon, tempers flare, crumbling ancient temples start falling apart, and bullets are fired from pistols. Luckily, Poirot is aboard the ship! He must figure out who is polluting the Nile with blood, as additional bodies pile up, jewellery is stolen, and a shady character hides amongst the boat’s passengers. Find out more about the 2022 film

Destination Unknown

After her child dies and her husband abandons her, Hilary Craven is struggling to go on. Before she can go through with her plans to end her life, a mysterious man offers her a reason to live – to impersonate the wife of a brilliant scientist who has disappeared. Discovering a new lease for life, Hilary accepts the challenge and embarks on a journey to the titular unknown destination, where she becomes embroiled in sinister plots that threaten international stability.

4:50 from Paddington

When Mrs. McGillicuddy witnesses a murder while riding on a train, the authorities patronisingly assume she dreamed it. But she's sure she saw a man strangling a woman in a train travelling alongside hers! Fortunately for her, she’s close friends with Miss Marple, who devises a clever plan to find out the truth, which leads to a family where the potential heirs to a fortune start dying one by one…

Passenger to Frankfurt

In this late and unconventional Christie novel, Sir Stafford Nye, a slightly dotty diplomat is stopped at an airport by a beautiful woman, who asks for his help making an escape. Ever the gentleman, Nye happily complies, only to find himself caught up in a perplexing conspiracy to take over the world. Will he be able to escape the danger his great-aunt warned him about?

All of these books reflect Christie’s love of travel, and how she cleverly transposed this into the plots of her novels.

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