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review 2019-02-19 08:41
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Mystery of the Blue Train: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

‘A mirror shows the truth, but everyone stands in a different place for looking into the mirror.’

 

I have always thought of The Mystery of the Blue Train as a strange story - not a first rate mystery, not a complete mess, but most definitely not a memorable Christie classic.

 

As Christie herself tells us in her autobiography, she was not fond of this story either - partly because she didn't feel like she managed to flesh out the characters so they would come alive on the page, and partly because she wrote this story under the pressures of having to earn a paycheck after the separation from her first husband. 

I felt more strongly than ever that everything I was saying was idiotic! (Most of it was, too.) I faltered, stammered, hesitated, and repeated myself. Really, how that wretched book ever came to be written, I don’t know! To begin with, I had no joy in writing, no elan. I had worked out the plot–a conventional plot, partly adapted from one of my other stories. I knew, as one might say, where I was going, but I could not see the scene in my mind’s eye, and the people would not come alive. I was driven desperately on by the desire, indeed the necessity, to write another book and make some money. That was the moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well. I have always hated The Mystery of the Blue Train, but I got it written, and sent off to the publishers. It sold just as well as my last book had done. So I had to content myself with that–though I cannot say I have ever been proud of it.

 

Agatha Christie - An Autobiography (pp. 357-358). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

And indeed, for me, too, there is little that stood out in the characters when I first read the story, and the crime and it's motive are, while horrible, fairly uninteresting. 

As a result, I have always looked at this story as a first draft of what would become one of my favourite Christie classics - Murder on the Orient Express.

 

On this most recent re-read, however, details that were not strictly connected with the whodunnit revealed themselves that gave the story another layer, that connected this odd little story to the rest, and the best, of the Christie universe. 

If you look closely, you can find that one of the characters, Katherine Grey, does not only have the spark of the brightest of Christie's young things but she's also come from that most intriguing of little villages - that cradle of human psychology in the Christie universe - St Mary Mead, home of a certain fierce and judgmental little old lady whom I can't stand but who, one has to admit, has a certain flair for snooping out crime.

 

This is as close as we get to Marple and Poirot ever meeting in the same book. They don't (and Christie herself was not in favour of them meeting), but The Mystery of the Blue Train seems like one of the key steps in Christie's development of the Marple series, even if this was perhaps not what the author intended. 

 

The full force of Marple would hit the reading public two years later in Murder at the Vicarage, but there are some hints at village life that seem to have already been on Christie's mind when penning Blue Train. For the Christie enthusiast - or Agathyte as Moonlight Reader has christened us fans - this is a delicious little detail that makes the book worth reading if it lacks much of the intelligent and complex plotting of a great Christie novel.  

 

Previous Reading Updates:

 

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 44 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 78 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 104 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 196 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 276 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 293 out of 308 pages.

 

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text 2019-02-18 22:29
Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 235 pages.
Dead Man's Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

‘I see…Yes, I see now a lot of things.’

‘It’s about time,’ said Mrs Oliver.

‘Pardon?’

‘I said it was about time,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘That you did see things, I mean. Up to now you don’t seem to have done anything.’ Her voice held reproach.

 

‘One cannot arrive at things all in a moment,’ said Poirot, defending himself. ‘The police,’ he added, ‘have been completely baffled.’

‘Oh, the police,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘Now if a woman were the head of Scotland Yard…’

 

Recognizing this well-known phrase, Poirot hastened to interrupt. 

Bwahahahaaa...

 

One of Ariadne's best lines from Cards on the Table and I love that she maintains her convictions in this one.

 

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text 2019-02-18 21:52
Reading progress update: I've read 125 out of 240 pages.
Dead Man's Folly (Hercule Poirot, #31) - Agatha Christie

Ummm, okay.

 

“But if her fair hated the sight of him…” Hoskins dropped into the vernacular.

“All we know is that she said she did. Women,” said the inspector sententiously, “tell a lot of lies. Always remember that, Hoskins.”

“Aah,” said Constable Hoskins appreciatively.

 

I, unlike the Constable, am unappreciative of Inspector Bland's statement.

 

This, however, I appreciate very much:

 

“Well, I must be getting along. I’m a busy woman.”

“Of course. You have to talk to the Chief Constable about bloodhounds.”

Mrs. Masterton gave a sudden deep bay of laughter. “Used to breed ’em at one time,” she said. “People tell me I’m a bit like a bloodhound myself.”

Poirot was slightly taken aback and she was quick enough to see it. “I bet you’ve been thinking so, M. Poirot,” she said.

 

Hahahaha.

 

 

 
 
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text 2019-02-18 20:55
Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 235 pages.
Dead Man's Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

Looking at the ceiling, the inspector spoke.

 

‘Mrs Legge says she was in the tea tent between four and four-thirty. Mrs Folliat says she was helping in the tea tent from four o’clock on but that Mrs Legge was not among those present.’ He paused and then went on, ‘Miss Brewis says that Lady Stubbs asked her to take a tray of cakes and fruit juice to Marlene Tucker. Michael Weyman says that it’s quite impossible Lady Stubbs should have done any such thing – it would be most uncharacteristic of her.’

(spoiler show)

 

‘Ah,’ said Poirot, ‘the conflicting statements! Yes, one always has them.’

 

Bwahahaha!

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text 2019-02-18 20:15
Reading progress update: I've read 119 out of 235 pages.
Dead Man's Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

Oh, no! Xxx is missing! Has anyone searched the attic?

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