“Miss Howard, do you remember a conversation that took place on the day of my friend’s arrival here? He repeated it to me, and there is a sentence of yours that has impressed me very much. Do you remember affirming that if a crime had been committed, and anyone you loved had been murdered, you felt certain that you would know by instinct who the criminal was, even if you were quite unable to prove it?”
“Yes, I remember saying that. I believe it too. I suppose you think it nonsense?”
“Not at all.”
“And yet you will pay no attention to my instinct against Alfred Inglethorp.”
“No,” said Poirot curtly. “Because your instinct is not against Alfred Inglethorp.”
“No. You wish to believe he committed the crime. You believe him capable to committing it. But your instinct tells you he did not commit it. It tells you more—shell I go on?”
She was staring at him, fascinated, and made a slight affirmative movement of the head.
“Shell I tell you why you have been so vehement against Mr. Inglethopr? It is because you have been trying to believe what you wish to believe. It is because you are trying to drown and stifle your instinct, which tells you another name—“
“No, no, no!” cried Miss Howard wildly, flinging up her hands. “Don’t say it! Oh, don’t say it! It isn’t true! It can’t be true. I don’t know what put such a wild – such a dreadful – idea into my head!”
“I am right, am I not?” asked Poirot.
“Yes, yes; you must be a wizard to have guessed. But it can’t be so – it’s too monstrous, too impossible. It must be Alfred Inglethorp.”
Poirot shook his head gravely.
“Don’t ask me about it,” continued Miss Howard, “because I shan’t tell you. I won’t admit it, even to myself. I must be mad to think of such a thing.”
Poirot nodded, as if satisfied.
“I will ask you nothing. It is enough for me that it is as I thought. And I – I, too, have an instinct. We are working together toward a common end.”
When the trailer of the new Murder on the Orient Express came out, there was a big buzz on Litsy. Many (including myself) started thinking about reading the book together. Then it was suggested we should read all of Dame Agatha’s work… which I don’t think will allow us to come to the Orient Express in time for November, I’ll have to do something about it on my own.
But I could not resist joining the readalong. We decided to read Christie’s stories in publishing order, and this is how I came to read Poirot’s first adventure.
I read a couple of Christie’s most famous stories many years ago and remember finding them enjoyable but very complex. I truly think she had a devilish mind. This story was along those lines, but it’s so good that I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.
Now I remember why Agatha Christie is one of the mystery genre masters. Her mysteries are painstakingly created, and she doesn’t hold back any info so that a keen mind can work them out just like her sleuths do. Only these riddles are so clever and so sophisticated that sometimes I have problems working them out even when I then read the explanation. It wasn’t the case with this one – I even smelled the culprit, at a certain point – but I certainly didn’t work out the riddle before the end.
The original Poirot was such a joy to read. I remember reading a few of his short stories many years ago, and didn’t particularly like them, I’m not sure why. It didn’t happen this time. I was surprised by how sympathetic a character he is, although certainly always a step ahead on anyone else.
And I couldn’t imagine him any other than with the looks of David Suchet. It was uncanny. It almost seemed like, rather than the actor playing out the character, the contrary happened, as if Agatha Christie simply described how Suchet’s Poirot looked and acted. That was almost an experience of its own.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel very much. It has such a classic plot (and one of the classics of mystery plots, the locked room), that felt as if all mysteries are constructed this one today – which may well be. But there are also very interesting, well-rounded characters and a very definite environment where they move.
If you have never read Christie, I do think this is an excellent place to start.
This 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