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January Book Club: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

“‘As you yourself have said, what other explanation can there be?’
Poirot stared straight ahead of him. ‘That is what I ask myself,’ he said. ‘That is what I never cease to ask myself.’”

January’s book club choice was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. This book is a classic murder mystery set in the 1920s. Our protagonist — Hercule Poirot, an accomplished Belgian private detective — finds himself on the Orient Express train set to London. He meets a motley group of travelers, all from different social classes, backgrounds, and countries. The journey is interrupted by winter weather and a murder. With his inquisitive nature and attention to detail, Poirot is charged to find the killer while all the passengers remain trapped on the halted train. 

There are many twists to the case. And warning, there are some spoilers below.

A partially burned paper with “Armstrong” written upon it, a train employee’s uniform, and a scarlet kimono are all pieces of evidence found in different passengers’ compartments. The characters themselves are not whom they seem, and everyone is revealed to have a secret that ties him or her to the murder. The murder victim is discovered to be a man named Cassetti (traveling under the name of Ratchett), a man strongly accused of murdering a three-year old child named Daisy Armstrong. The train also could be viewed as a symbol or a clue to the mystery, with it acting as an escape for all passengers involved as well as it presenting an ideal murder scene. 

To conclude his investigation, Poirot presents two solutions to the murder: that a stranger entered the train at another stop and left mysteriously, or that every passenger was involved in the murder in an act of revenge of the death of Daisy Armstrong. In our discussion, this brought up the question of justice versus revenge. As Christian so aptly stated, “justice is an attempt to rebalance the wrong and right of the world for the greater good, and revenge is a personal action taken to compensate for a perceived personal wrongdoing.” In the end, the first solution is presented to the police to protect all the passengers. While murder is a crime for anyone to commit, these twelve passengers all believed that justice was not found for Daisy Armstrong’s family; instead, they chose to get it for themselves-or was it revenge? 

Honestly, none of us could solve this one! Jen summarized it for all of us in stating, “I definitely had no clue about the outcome before it was solved!” But this is the best part of a good murder mystery, making Murder on the Orient Express a win for all of us in the MilMB Book Club. As I mentioned in the previous book club post, every good book nerd lover wants to read a book that has been made into a film. Did any of you see the film AND read the book?  What did you think?

Join us next month for our February selection, The Conman’s Daughter by Candice Curry. We will even feature an interview with the author!

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