She regarded him with a grim smile.
“Well, Monsieur, do you not wish to see what my valises contain?”
He shook his head. “Madame, it is a formality, that is all.”
“Are you so sure?”
“In your case, yes.”
“And yet I knew and loved Sonia Armstrong. What do you think, then? That I would not soil my hands with killing such canaille as that man Cassetti? Well, perhaps you are right.”
She was silent a minute or two. Then she said: “With such a man as that, do you know what I should have liked to do? I should have liked to call to my servants: ‘Flog this man to death and fling him out on the rubbish heap!’ That is the way things were done when I was young, Monsieur.”
Still he did not speak, just listened attentively.
She looked at him with a sudden impetuosity. “You do not say anything, M. Poirot. What is it that you are thinking, I wonder?”
He looked at her with a very direct glance. “I think, Madame, that your strength is in your will—not in your arm.”
She glanced down at her thin, black-clad arms ending in those claw-like yellow hands with the rings on the fingers.
“It is true,” she said. “I have no strength in these—none. I do not know whether I am sorry or glad.”
Then she turned abruptly back towards her carriage where the maid was busily packing up the cases.
The Princess cut short M. Bouc’s apologies.
“There is no need for you to apologise, Monsieur,” she said. “A murder has been committed.
Certain actions have to be performed. That is all there is to it.”
“Vous êtes bien aimable, Madame.”
She inclined her head slightly as they departed.
Fine, I’ll confess it: I’m falling in love with Agatha Christie. I read a couple of her most famous novels (but not Murder on the Orient Express) when I was a kid and although I liked her, I found her too complicated. That may be why I never picked her up again. But then, when I saw the trailer for the new film, I wanted to read at least this book again (I actually read two other), and boy, she is good! She has a truly criminal mind, her characters are fabulous, the plots are so interesting and she has a sense of humour. I didn’t remember her to be like this.
Murder on the Orient Express is even on a higher level in terms of characters, in my opinion. Strictly speaking, this is quite a classic locked-room mystery in a less classic setting but with a definitely unconventional ending.
I was already familiar with the story because I’ve seen the two previous film adaptations (and loved both, different as they are), yet I didn’t expect the novel to be what it is. I’ve heard readers complain that it is all a very long interview. Well, yes, the story hinges on interviews, there is very little action, but this is the strength of it. Everything rests with the characters. They are the true mystery of the novel, and nobody can force their secrets out of them, as Poirot swiftly realises. They have to reveal them willingly (if with a little push), and that’s exactly what they do. It’s a very subtle game of psychology and deduction. There is no technicality, no clever device, but only the characters trying to hide their secrets and the investigator trying to discover them through the people who hide them.
I’ll just say I read it from the edge of my seat although I knew perfectly well who the murderer was from the beginning.
I really loved this cast of characters and the fact that it’s an international one. Christie manages to give the impression many languages are spoken, even if we only read English.
It’s quite a big cast, so naturally, a few characters come out more and better than others, but I enjoyed all of them. Everyone has a story and motives.
I found the female characters particularly strong and determined, and among them, Princess Dragomiroff is my favourite. She’s a particularly strong woman, even if she appears old and fragile. Christie makes an effort for presenting her as an ugly woman, but reading the story, you never figure her like that because what comes through is her inner strength, her steel soul and her unforgiveness, which she exerts not only on others but on herself too.
Mrs Hubbard is another fantastic characters. You don’t even take her seriously at the beginning, so much she looks silly and superficial. But slowly you start to realise there is more about her then it meets the eye. And right you are!
It’s an awesome story and rightly a classic.
In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies