My first Agatha Christie was the story she liked the least.
Yes, because ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ is exactly that: Agatha Christie’s least favourite detective story. Not to mention that it’s the 6th of the Poirot series.
But you know what? I loved it.
And anyway, it was a first in at least a couple of things:
- First description of St. Mary Mead (where Miss Marple comes from);
- First appearance of George, Poirot’s valet – a truly awesome character.
The murder happens on the Blue Train that goes to the French Riviera. The victim is Ruth Kettering, daughter of an American billionaire, who was wise enough to take the most legendary piece of jewellery along with her – it’s the ‘Heart of Fire’, formerly owned by Catherine of Russia – because “What could possibly go wrong?”.
On the train is also her soon-to-be ex-husband, his mistress, her father’s secretary, a certain Katherine Gray on her first time out of England, and Hercule Poirot, the best detective that ever lived – as he very modestly puts it.
I don’t usually read detective stories and the only other time I read one (it was Rex Stout), I was very disappointed to realise who was the culprit halfway through. After that, it got very boring.
While reading ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ I got this feeling at least twice. A feeling of ‘all right, I got it, now it’s going to be a bore’, until I turned the page and I realised I had understood nothing at all.
It was a marvelous sensation.
That, added to Agatha Christie’s brilliant writing – so factual, straight to the point, concise. For some reason I had Robert Llewellyn’s voice reading it in my head. I probably have been watching too much ‘Red Dwarf’ lately…
In my defence – and Robert’s praise – it’s a great voice.
So, now that I was introduced to Poirot’s 6th adventure, I think I’ll dive into all the others. Maybe I’ll go and find the 10th story of the series…