“Lie back and think – use (as I have heard you say
so often) the little grey cells of the mind ¬ and you
will know!" – Monsieur Bouc, Murder on the
Hercule Poirot just closed his most recent
case in Syria, and he’s hoping to be a typical tourist
at his next stop, Stamboul. The General in Aleppo sees him
off and thanks him for saving the honour of the French Army.
After a night’s sleep, Poirot receives a message to
return to London. Poirot joins the other passengers on the
Orient Express and learns first class is full. He meets up
with his old friend Monsieur Bouc. They worked together for
the Belgian Police. Bouc generously gives his first-class
cabin to Poirot. The other passengers are from various countries,
Italy, Sweden, Germany, America, etc., and their interactions
amuse Poirot. One American gentleman leaves Poirot with a
bad feeling. A mother refers to her daughter’s opinion
too often. And a scene with a couple comes across as a comedy.
When the train is snowed in, a killer takes his/her chance
and murders the American. It’s Bouc who convinces Poirot
to use his gray cells and solve the case. Poirot views the
body and the crime scene. He considers past knowledge of the
victim, his observations of passengers, and the evidence concerning
each one. Christie sets Poirot up with some eccentric personalities
and pages of conversation. You can’t help but get caught
up in it all. Christie was a genius at character development
and dialogue. For me, reading or listening to her mysteries
is the height of entertainment.
Kenneth Branagh’s narration of Murder
on the Orient Express is engaging. Branagh’s award-winning
acting and theater experience shines through in this Christie
classic. I was entranced. He delivers each character perfectly.
The characters’ exchanges seem effortless and the accents
are flawless. I had to chuckle at the American woman’s
voice. Branagh is also a seasoned narrator and I’m betting
Murder on the Orient Express is one of his best narrations,
ever. Christie created a distinct image of each character
and Kenneth successfully brought each to life – accents,
attitudes, mannerisms, prejudice, and stations in life. This
audio version is absolutely unforgettable.