Book Review: The Mystery of the Blue Train
By Shabna Cader Ceylon Today Features
Yes, I picked up a new book, or two. I couldn’t help myself. And yes, more Agatha Christie. Again, couldn’t help myself. Nothing quite like a murder/mystery novel you see. Distracts me from reality, keeps my mind occupied and makes me think more than I typically would about solving crime.
Now, if you’ve read Murder on the Orient Express, let me tell you this is far from anything like it, except for the fact that there’s a train, and the very same train conductor is on this one as well. Oh, and of course the greatest detective in the world - Hercule Poirot.
Legendary ruby jewels, a recently wealthy young woman, a wealthy man’s daughter, elusive and mysterious in some ways, a jealous dancer and a night train to the French Riveria. Like in most of her novels, the setting is picturesque somehow and the introductory chapters give an outline of each important character to the story and plot, as well as some background information on the jewels for example. Close attention from the first line of the book until the end is a must, order you’d miss a clue or two.
I had my eyes peeled this time to watch out for subtle nuances and hints. Was this setting ideal for the perfect romance or the perfect crime? Well, it nearly worked for both. Overnight, the jewels were amiss, and the woman was murdered, face disfigured beyond recognition. Why? Was it a robbery gone wrong? Was it a lover’s spat gone wrong?
Was it passion, greed or revenge?
You’ll come to notice plenty of French words and phrases used throughout the book and while I may have studied the language at school, it’s not any easy language to catch on to and I had to resort to either coming up with my own translation or/and looking it up online. Also, the novel was written in 1928 so the overall language of the book differs as well, which was a treat! You’ll also notice that there are key female characters that aid Poirot in solving the case - Lenox, Zia and Katherine. I much liked the idea of this over the fact that the author could have easily added male characters that aided the strength of solving the case. Power to women and their intuitions!
There’s the usual suspects of course, and they’s remain suspects until proven innocent. But I also took it to myself to look at each of the other characters in the novel, mixed in with everything that was going on. You’ve got to read between the lines when it comes to a Christie you see. I’d originally thought to read the book over a couple of days, but the more I read, the more I didn’t want to put it down. Unfortunately, I was done in a day and a half.