I read this book on vacation because I ran out of reading material and my daughter had it along as her assigned summer reading for high school English class. I’d never read anything by Agatha Christie and am not a seasoned mystery reader. That being the case, I wasn’t used to the rather abrupt ending and how everything got sewn up in essentially one chapter and all kinds of clues that weren’t obvious at all were suddenly explained as if they were there all along.
Overall, the book was a decent read – good for vacation. We actually listened to part of it and the British narrator was really good too. BUT – and it’s a big but – I didn’t like the ending much at all. Did you ever see the movie Murder by Death? It’s a great movie (not exactly new – came out in 1976) and is a spoof of crime mysteries. It’s very cleverly written (written by Neil Simon) and really funny. The premise of the movie is that five famous literary detectives are summoned to an ominous-looking mansion wherein a murder takes place (the mansion is owned by Lionel Twain – the address is Two Two Twain). They then are challenged to solve the mystery in one night. At the end – when the murder is solved (not by any of the detectives) and the solution makes no sense at all – the person who hosted the party says he brought them there to get back at them for all the times they’ve exploited their readers with nonsensical surprise endings and new information no one could see until the end. That’s what I thought of with this book. The ending wasn’t intuitive and it seemed like our crime-solving detective suddenly knew all kinds of things in the last chapter that he hadn’t known at any prior point in the story.
If you like Christie and her Poirot series of books, you’ll probably like this one (and have probably already read it). If you’ve not read any of her mysteries but think you’d like to start – this might be a good one to get your feet wet (although I guess you might be better off just going for the headliner – Murder on the Orient Express). If you’ve not read any of her mysteries and don’t have an overarching desire to start – then I think this is an excellent book to not start on.