On board the Blue Train, newly minted heiress Katherine Grey is bound for Nice, and a life far removed from that of the quiet lady’s companion she has been. En route, she becomes the unintended confident of American heiress Ruth Kettering. Ruth has left her husband, and is on her way to meet a former lover, carrying with her a ruby known as the Heart of Fire. Before the Blue Train reaches Nice, Ruth Kettering will be dead and the Heart of Fire gone. Katherine finds herself drawn into a real-life “Roman Policier” by “a small man, distinctly foreign in appearance, with a rigidly waxed moustache and an egg-shaped head which he carried rather to the side.” For he is none other than Hercule Poirot, and it is his promise that they will investigate the crime together.
As a new convert to Hercule Poirot I have little to rate this against, but I did find it to be a delight. There are quite a number of intriguing characters, and Christie gives us very good characterizations of all, providing rich backgrounds and in depth personalities. There are a few standouts though. Of course there is Poirot, the great detective. An observer who quietly gathers information and stores it for the future…like the squirrel with the nut. Katherine Grey is a quiet, intelligent listener who makes a fine counterpart to Poirot. But I was particularly drawn to the relatively small character of Lenox Tamplin, I think because of, what becomes in the end, a very sympathetic portrayal of her.
A daughter such as Lenox was a sad thorn in Lady Tamplin’s side, a girl with no kind of tact, who actually looked older than her age, and whose perculiar sardonic form of humour was, to say the least, uncomfortable.”
The story was well plotted and moves at a rapid pace. There are several side plots, but they all enhance the story, never bogging it down. I did spot the culprit as soon as they stepped on the page. It’s nothing they said or did, I just knew. But because this is a more involved mystery, and Christie’s diversions are well placed, while I identified some of the solution, I missed enough clues to keep me fooled.
A very enjoyable read and yet more proof that I was a fool all these years to pass by Hercule.
My Judgment – 4.25/5
BTW once I finished the book I decided to watch the movie done a part of the Poirot series. While it was very entertaining, other than the character names and the fact that a murder/robbery takes place on the Blue Train, it bore little if any resemblance to the book. Very disappointing in that sense (the movie that is).
Murder Mystery Bingo – Clues and Clichés: Monogram, Red Herrings: Former lover, Listening at keyhole