Surely one of the world’s more enduring and fascinating murder mysteries is the late Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express”. By far, the most astute portrayal of the hero, Hercule Poirot, the diminutive Belgian detective who engages his “little gray cells” to solve all his cases, is that of the British actor David Suchet. Hercule cannot be missed with his pommaded hair and ridiculous little black mustache, he is already an object of interest, and when we include his dapper dress, mincing walk , wearing patent leather shoes with impeccable white spats and carrying his delightful cane with its silver swan handle, you have the character of whom all mystery writers dream .
Murder On The Orient Express takes place on the Calais part of the trip, and includes a cast of about 12 passengers including a victim. Poirot is not happy to be on this train and remains in his compartment sullenly awaiting mealtime, when it is frantically called to his attention that the victim has indeed been done in. Since he is the self-acclaimed “world’s greatest detective”, he is called to solve the bloody murder which has taken place in a locked compartment, and consists of at least 12 stab wounds. The one car on the train has become snowed in with not much hope of escaping. Poirot sees no footprints in the snow surrounding the train, so the murderer did not escape and is still on the train.
The 12 passengers and the train employees are gathered and interviewed, much to the irritation of most of them. There begins to be a common thread, when Poirot discovers that at least some of the passengers were acquainted with a prominent family whose child was kidnapped and murdered some years ago. Our suspicion lands on a ubiquitous young man who says he is a doctor, and who seems to be hovering over the detective offering advice by virtue of his medical expertise. It is discovered that not only are there at leeast 12 stab wounds, but they have been delivered from various directions. Mystery indeed. If you were stabbing someone, would you change hands betwwen stabs, or would you simply get the job done and get out?
Poirot zeros in on all the passengers, pursuing the common thread, and discovers that each of his fellow passengers knew the victim, a known Mafia associate,who had been the killer of the child 5 years before. Each of the people had close personal relationships with the family. So there we are led to think voila! the murderer should be self-evident. The cast is assembled, the gray cells have done their job, Poirot is at the top of his game, and announces the killer—or rather, killers! This murder has been a community effort. All 12 passengers have delivered their final verdict. The Mafioso had no choice and justice was done. Or was it?
What will be done with these 12 assassins? Obviously punishment is due someone, but which one? Or all? Hercule logically explains that he will decide what is to be done, while the unrepentent killers suggest simply pushing it all under the rug.
At this point,—–I FELL ASLEEP! What did he decide to do? Once awake, I could not go back to sleep. If anyone out there can tell me the answer, I will appreciate it, otherwise I shall have to go to the library and read the book.
MURDER MOST FOUL!