The daughter of an American millionaire is unhappy in her marriage. She wants a divorce and embarks on a trip to the south of France. Traveling on the same train are her estranged husband, his former mistress, and a young woman who has recently inherited a large amount of money. Someone will die before the journey's end. And Hercule Poirot will be engaged to solve the murder.
I have read that this was not one of Christie's favorites of her novels. Robert Barnard, in A Talent to Deceive, thinks it is not so bad, but cites "some deleterious influences from the thrillers." He does not care for her thrillers, which are mostly among her early novels. I have liked all the thrillers by Christie that I have read so far, and I like this novel quite a bit.
First of all, it features a train and many scenes on a train. That right there would push it to the top for me. I also like the variety of characters; the rich, the not so rich. Thieves and those who prey on the wealth of others. I will admit many of them are stereotypes, but I still enjoyed them.
I especially liked Katherine Grey, a woman in her thirties who has the opportunity to see more of the world after inheriting a substantial sum of money. She is traveling to visit distant relatives who live on the Riviera. They hope to share in some of her wealth, and she is willing to take them up on their offer to launch her into society.
Poirot and Katherine meet on the train and have a conversation about the mystery novel she is reading, or as he calls it, a "Roman Policier."
"Some day, who knows, you might be in the thick of things," he went on. "It is all chance."And, of course, there is some romance, without being too intrusive. One element of Christie's books that I had forgotten was the romance. And I have been surprised to enjoy it so much.
"I don't think it is likely," said Katherine, "Nothing of that kind ever happens to me."
He leaned forward.
"Would you like it to?"
The question startled her, and she drew in her breath sharply.
"It is my fancy, perhaps," said the little man, as he dexterously polished one of the forks, "but I think that you have a yearning in you for interesting happenings. Eh bien, Mademoiselle, all through my life I have observed one thing - 'All one wants one gets!' Who knows?" His face screwed itself up comically. "You may get more than you bargain for."
"Is that a prophecy?" asked Katherine, smiling as she rose from the table.
The little man shook his head.
"I never prophesy," he declared pompously. "It is true that I have the habit of being always right - but I do not boast of it. Good-night, Mademoiselle, and may you sleep well."
Katherine went back along the train amused and entertained by her little neighbour.
Poirot is much less annoying in this book than I found him to be in the last Poirot novel I read (Murder on the Links). Egotistical as always, but much more likeable.
So, all in all, a very enjoyable read for me.
Mysteries In Paradise. If you are interested in joining in, here are instructions on how to do that. Links to other reviews for this month will be found here.
Also submitted for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VIII event, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. That event celebrates reading of books of mystery, suspense, and horror. The event continues through October 31, 2013. Reviews for that event are here.