Do you think you are smart enough to create the perfect crime? Commit murder and get away with it? Well, this may be the case if you are starring in a movie or series. But what happens if you are part of a book? If you have Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and his little gray cells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole or Camilla Lackberg’s Erica and Patrick after you, then you simply don’t stand a chance! In crime fiction books, there is no such thing as the perfect crime.
I am a crime fiction fan and the purpose of this column is to guide you through this literary genre, starting off with the basics/classics such as Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and move forward to the present with the upcoming Scandinavian noir scene, Jo Nesbø, Camilla Läckberg, Åsa Larsson, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and more. I will be reading and reviewing books and will also provide suggestions. Of course, you are more than welcome to suggest or ask me to write a review about a book!
My first review could not have been for any other book than my all-time favorite: “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie. It was the first book I read by her about 15 years ago and I read it again now in its original version for this review and the feeling was the same. How could I not foresee who the murderer is? All the clues are right there in front of me! That is what I like in her books. Even though I have read quite a bunch of them, I am always surprised with the reveal of the murderer.
Hercule Poirot is in Stamboul (now Istanbul) when he receives a telegram asking him to return to London promptly. He books a compartment in the Simplon Orient Express, leaving that night, which is unusually crowded for December. During his voyage, a snowdrift causes the train to stop. The next morning, a passenger lies dead in his berth, stabbed and Poirot is asked to investigate the murder. Poirot will lie back in his chair, go through the evidence and testimonies, use his little gray cells of the mind and solve this murder!
Why do I like this book so much? First of all, it takes me to another era. When reading it, I felt that I was also traveling on the Orient Express, wearing my fancy clothes and dining with Hercule Poirot. Secondly, I like the fact that the murder is slowly resolved, you are presented with all the clues, but I personally can’t think of the murderer until Poirot provides the solution. Then suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle are connected. To me, that is the point of a nice crime novel. Keep you on the edge until the last moment!
And a few words about Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. She was born in 1890 in England and is the best-selling novelist of all time. She wrote “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”, her debut novel, during the First World War with Hercule Poirot, a former great Belgian policeman, as the main character and in her books you can see the way of living of the early 20th century. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap. Her last public appearance was at the opening night of the 1974 film version of “Murder on the Orient Express” starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot. Her verdict: a good adaptation with the minor point that Poirot’s mustaches weren’t luxurious enough. She died in 1976 and last year Royal Mail created six special stamps, depicting key scenes and characters from six of her books, to celebrate the 100 years since her first crime novel.
PS: It is worth checking the Agatha Christie’s Poirot Tv series aired from 1989 to 2013 with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.
Written by Nefeli Mintilogliti