“The Mystery of the Blue Train” by Agatha Christie – an enjoyable mystery

The Mystery of the Blue Train is another Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie. The Blue Train is a luxury train service from London to the French Riviera which ran between the wars and it is on that train that the dead body of one of its passengers is found. Lots of people have motives for the death of the millionaire’s daughter and one of the main possible reasons is the associated theft of a very valuable ruby which was travelling with the victim.

This story starts with introducing us to the main characters and outlining their relationships. We get to know a number of people including a young woman who is also travelling on the train and who speaks to the victim the evening of the murder. Hercule Poirot is not engaged until the cast arrives in the French Riviera and he is asked by the father of the victim to find the murderer. The story moves back to London and then again to the Blue Train where Poirot reveals how the murder was done.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It is a quick read but the author has created some interesting situations and events for his characters. Needless to say there is a vast amount of misdirection, red herrings and possible motivation to sift through to get to the result. It’s all great fun although it isn’t particularly deep or thought provoking. This is an unusual early Poirot novel because it doesn’t involve his companion Captain Hastings which means that we concentrate more on the other characters than on Poirot – I liked this approach and enjoyed the way that we learned the stories of many other characters and saw how they were all connected with the dead woman.

As usual, Poirot solves the mystery although it does seem a bit as though he pulls the solution out of thin air. Of course, he spends some time showing us all the clues and how we should have worked it out for ourselves but the reader knows that the author has designed a plot in which any of the characters could have committed the murder and she has strewn the narrative with clues, many of which are misleading.

This novel, despite its age, holds up reasonably well to the modern reader although it does shine a light on the advantages of wealth in the way of luxury travel.