The Mystery of the Blue Train
by Agatha Christie

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

a Hercule Poirot mystery

Collins: London, 1928
295 pages

Dodd, Mead: New York, 1928

306 pages

July 2008


Agatha Christie's novel The Mystery of the Blue Train seems deceptively simple for a good portion of its length. Her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is drawn into the case of some fabulous rubies — once part of the Russian Crown Jewels — and an associated murder.

The surface simplicity lulls the reader until eventually one realizes that a complex tangle of background relationships and motives has thrust itself into the open. There are perhaps too many coincidences, or apparent coincidences, in the earlier parts of the novel. But eventually these all feel entrained by the fateful natures of the characters with their passions for love or jewels.

The Blue Train (Le Train Blue, the Calais-Mediterranee-Express), was a famous luxury train with blue sleeper cars, very fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s. It ran from the English Channel to the French Riviera, and Christie's plot suggests that you note key points along its route: Calais, Paris, Lyons, Nice. I like railroads and their history, and fiction including train scenes ranging from the Armored Train in Freddy the Detective to the John Galt Line in Atlas Shrugged. Only a portion of The Mystery of the Blue Train takes place aboard that famous train, but the murder in transit, and the route of the jewels, lie at the heart of the mystery.

Hercule Poirot, as though playing some conductor of justice overseeing the Blue Train's domain from a vantage beyond and above it, applies the insight that brings everyone through.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson

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