“Miss Howard, do you remember a conversation that took place on the day of my friend’s arrival here? He repeated it to me, and there is a sentence of yours that has impressed me very much. Do you remember affirming that if a crime had been committed, and anyone you loved had been murdered, you felt certain that you would know by instinct who the criminal was, even if you were quite unable to prove it?”
“Yes, I remember saying that. I believe it too. I suppose you think it nonsense?”
“Not at all.”
“And yet you will pay no attention to my instinct against Alfred Inglethorp.”
“No,” said Poirot curtly. “Because your instinct is not against Alfred Inglethorp.”
“No. You wish to believe he committed the crime. You believe him capable to committing it. But your instinct tells you he did not commit it. It tells you more—shell I go on?”
She was staring at him, fascinated, and made a slight affirmative movement of the head.
“Shell I tell you why you have been so vehement against Mr. Inglethopr? It is because you have been trying to believe what you wish to believe. It is because you are trying to drown and stifle your instinct, which tells you another name—“
“No, no, no!” cried Miss Howard wildly, flinging up her hands. “Don’t say it! Oh, don’t say it! It isn’t true! It can’t be true. I don’t know what put such a wild – such a dreadful – idea into my head!”
“I am right, am I not?” asked Poirot.
“Yes, yes; you must be a wizard to have guessed. But it can’t be so – it’s too monstrous, too impossible. It must be Alfred Inglethorp.”
Poirot shook his head gravely.
“Don’t ask me about it,” continued Miss Howard, “because I shan’t tell you. I won’t admit it, even to myself. I must be mad to think of such a thing.”
Poirot nodded, as if satisfied.
“I will ask you nothing. It is enough for me that it is as I thought. And I – I, too, have an instinct. We are working together toward a common end.”
When the trailer of the new Murder on the Orient Express came out, there was a big buzz on Litsy. Many (including myself) started thinking about reading the book together. Then it was suggested we should read all of Dame Agatha’s work… which I don’t think will allow us to come to the Orient Express in time for November, I’ll have to do something about it on my own.
But I could not resist joining the readalong. We decided to read Christie’s stories in publishing order, and this is how I came to read Poirot’s first adventure.
I read a couple of Christie’s most famous stories many years ago and remember finding them enjoyable but very complex. I truly think she had a devilish mind. This story was along those lines, but it’s so good that I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.
Now I remember why Agatha Christie is one of the mystery genre masters. Her mysteries are painstakingly created, and she doesn’t hold back any info so that a keen mind can work them out just like her sleuths do. Only these riddles are so clever and so sophisticated that sometimes I have problems working them out even when I then read the explanation. It wasn’t the case with this one – I even smelled the culprit, at a certain point – but I certainly didn’t work out the riddle before the end.
The original Poirot was such a joy to read. I remember reading a few of his short stories many years ago, and didn’t particularly like them, I’m not sure why. It didn’t happen this time. I was surprised by how sympathetic a character he is, although certainly always a step ahead on anyone else.
And I couldn’t imagine him any other than with the looks of David Suchet. It was uncanny. It almost seemed like, rather than the actor playing out the character, the contrary happened, as if Agatha Christie simply described how Suchet’s Poirot looked and acted. That was almost an experience of its own.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel very much. It has such a classic plot (and one of the classics of mystery plots, the locked room), that felt as if all mysteries are constructed this one today – which may well be. But there are also very interesting, well-rounded characters and a very definite environment where they move.
If you have never read Christie, I do think this is an excellent place to start.
This post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies
Hi Sarah – I’ve loved the David Suchet programmes. In my early years I read as much Agatha Christie as I could get my hands on, and similar sleuth type stories – they are wonderful. I’m sure I don’t crack them because I want to get to the end and find out who ‘dunnit’ … perhaps now I’d have more time.
I did read ‘The Man in the Brown Suit’ and can see where she got her ideas from … being brought up in Devon – there was Kent’s Cavern – lots of fossils … and her 2nd husband was an archaeologist … who travelled and gave lectures – so they travelled on the great liners of the day … and her time in Southern Africa – an area I also know.
Reading her stories must have been fun – they are complicated and complex, yet have compelling descriptions and conversations … cheers Hilary
Although I’m a mystery fan and reader, I have actually read very few Agatha Christies. In fact only a couple of her most famous ones, a long time ago. So it was like discovering her for the first time. And I’m really liking what I see 😉
One thing I like about this one, Sarah, is that we get to learn how Poirot and Hastings met. And we learn a bit about Hastings’ personal life. The novel certainly set the stage for Christie’s later blossoming as a writer. It gives me hope, too, because it was rejected several times before it was finally accepted for publication.
It’s always nice to see how a ‘famous’ due came together. I liked the relation between Poirot and Hastings. I also liked Poirot more than I expected. I read a few Poirot short stories when I was a kid and I remember not liking him very much. But then, many stories I didnt’ really like as a kid I now appreciate very much.
LOL! Yes, it gives hope. To me too 😉
I must have read this because when I was about 12 or 13 I read every Christie there was, either from the local library or by buying cheap paperbacks. Occasionally, I read one these days and yes, Poirot is definitely David Suchet.
A true testament to Suchet’s acting ability. I was really really impressed.
And I’m impressed by you, Anabel! I read a few of Christie’s novels (the most famous) when I was a kid, but I’ve felt to these days that she’s too claver for me. Not easy to crack her mysteries. I think that’s why I then stopped reading her.
But now I’m intrigued again 🙂
I must have read this one, I read most of Christie’s novels. My favorite were the Tommy and Tuppence books.