Author: Agatha Christie
Performed by Hugh Frazer
Published by HarperCollins and released on Audible in 2006
Category: Murder, Mystery, Audiobook, Review
A mysterious woman, a legendary cursed jewel, and a night train to the French riviera — ingredients for the perfect romance or the perfect crime? When the train stops, the jewel is missing, and the woman is found dead in her compartment. It’s the perfect mystery, filled with passion, greed, deceit. And Hercule Poirot is the perfect detective to solve it…
An intriguing start to The Mystery of the Blue Train with an mysterious parcel being picked up in the dead of night, a large sum of money exchanged and people being shadowed and attacked.
American millionaire Rufus Van Aldin is set on persuading his daughter, Ruth, to divorce her cheating husband, Derek Kettering. Ruth eventually agrees as her father presents her with a gift of three large rubies, the largest being the coveted ‘Heart of Fire.’ Ruth, however, is not an innocent in the marriage and has plans to travel to the French Riviera to meet her lover, the Comte de la Roche.
Ruth was booked on the Blue Train, a luxury night express running the length of France, from Paris to Nice, and patronised by the famous and wealthy.
Meanwhile in St Mary Mead (the first mention of that particular village), Katherine Grey has just come into a substantial inheritance from the elderly lady she looked after. She decides on a trip to the French Riviera at the invitation of a distant relative who had heard about her good fortune. Despite her unworldliness, Katherine is anything but naive and knows why she is being recognised by her relative now. She is also a passenger on the Blue Train.
Katherine Grey was born with the power of managing old ladies, dogs, and small boys, and she did it without any apparent sense of strain.
Needless to say there is a murder on the train, the face unrecognisable after a severe beating, and the priceless ruby has disappeared. Two suspects spring to mind immediately but of course the crime isn’t so simple or easily solved.
“You tell your lies and you think nobody knows. But there are two people who know. Yes- two people. One is le bon Dieu – and the other is Hercule Poirot”
Starting slowly, the plot builds momentum as events unfold while bringing the characters to life, interspersed with astute social observations from the author.
The Mystery of the Blue Train is an early Poirot novel, minus Captain Hastings and written at an extremely low point in the author’s life, expanding on a short story. It’s lacking the humour usually generated between Poirot and Hastings but Hugh Frazer’s wonderful narration lifts the story. The plot is as intricate as ever although Poirot was less in evidence than usual. Even though I’ve read and listened to better books, I still enjoyed this one and that, I think, was mostly down to Hugh Frazer’s interpretation and characterisations.
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Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.