Review: The Mystery of the Blue Train, 1928 (Hercule Poirot #5) by Agatha Christie


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First published in the United Kingdom by William Collins & Sons on 29 March 1928. This edition published by HarperCollinsPublishers, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1057 KB Print length: 317 pages. eISBN 13: 9780007422609. ASIN: B0046A9MQS.

BLUE TRAIN BPB.indd Synopsis: The daughter of an American millionaire dies on a train en route for Nice… When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake serene Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing. The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

More about his story: The writing of this book (part of which took place on the Canary Islands in early 1927) was an ordeal for Agatha Christie. The events of 1926 with the death of her mother, her husband’s infidelity and her breakdown and ten-day disappearance had left a deep psychological scar and now separated from Archie Christie and in need of funds she turned back to writing. The dedication “To the two distinguished members of the O.F.D. – Carlotta and Peter” also references this difficult time. O.F.D. stood for Order of the Faithful Dogs and both Carlotta, hired by Christie as a secretary and Rosalind’s governess, and Peter, Rosalind’s much loved dog were in that camp as opposed to the Order of the Faithless Rats who had turned away from her. The story itself, even though derived from the 1923 Poirot short story The Plymouth Express, did not come easily to her and she referred to this novel in her autobiography stating that she “always hated it”. The critics did not agree with her. The Times Literary Supplement said, “The reader will not be disappointed when the distinguished Belgian on psychological grounds builds up inferences almost out of the air, supports them by a masterly array of negative evidence and lands his fish to the surprise of everyone”. The novel also contains a number of firsts: there is a reference to the fictional village of St. Mary Mead, which would later be the home of Agatha Christie’s detective Miss Marple; the first appearance of the minor recurring character, Mr Goby, who would also appear in After the Funeral and Third Girl and the first appearance of Poirot’s valet, George.

My take: Agatha Christie acknowledged she disliked this book, written at a particularly hard time for her and only because she really needed the money. Consequently, even admitting that I have found that both the crime as its solution are fairly clever, I honestly believe the novel is poorly implemented and its execution is mediocre and flawed. It’s worth to mention that it’s written in the third person. However, for my taste, her writing is far from her usual standard and, in conclusion, I consider that The Mystery of the Blue Train is an entirely dispensable novel in Poirot’s canon.

My rating: C (I liked it with a few reservations)

The Mystery of the Blue Train has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise, I Love Reading, Joyfully Retired, The Christie Mystery. Books Please, Clothes in Books (Part. 1), Clothes in Books (Part. 2), In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

Harper Collins Publishers publicity page

The Official Agatha Christie Website

audible

El misterio del tren azul de Agatha Christie

Sinopsis: La hija de un millonario norteamericano muere en un tren con destino Niza … Cuando el lujoso Le Train Bleu llega a Niza, un vigilante intenta despertar a Ruth Kettering de sus plácidos sueños. Pero Ruth no volverá a despertarse, ha muerto a consecuencia de un fuerte golpe que ha desfigurando sus rasgos hasta hacerlos casi irreconocibles. Además, se encuentran a faltar sus preciados rubíes. El principal sospechoso es el ex marido de Ruth, Derek. Sin embargo, Poirot no está convencido de ello, por lo que pone en escena una extraña representación del viaje que concluye con el asesino a bordo …

Más sobre esta historia: La redacción de este libro (en parte escrito en las Islas Canarias a principios de 1927) fue un calvario para Agatha Christie. Los acontecimientos de 1926 con la muerte de su madre, la infidelidad de su marido, su crisis nerviosa y su posterior desaparición durante diez días, le habían dejado una profunda cicatriz psicológica y ahora separada de Archie Christie y con necesidad de dinero volvió a escribir. La dedicatotia “A los dos distinguidos miembros de la O.F.D. – Carlotta y Peter” también hace referencia a este difícil momento. O.F.D. significa la Orden de los Fieles Perros (en inglés) y tanto Carlotta, contratada por Christie como secretaria e institutriz de Rosalind, y Peter, el  querido perro de Rosalind se encontraban en ese campo en oposición a la Orden de las Ratas Desleales, que le habían dado la espalda. La historia en sí, a pesar de que está basada en una historia corta de 1923 protagonizada por Poirot, The Plymouth Express, no le resultó fácil y se refirió a esta novela en su autobiografía diciendo que ella “siempre la odiaba”. Los críticos no están de acuerdo con ella. The Times Literary Supplement dijo de ella, “El lector no quedará decepcionado cuando el distinguido belga por razones psicológicas saca conclusiones casi de la nada, las apoya sobre un magistral conjunto de pruebas negativas y, para sorpresa de todos, muestra su botín”. La novela también contiene una serie de primicias: hay una referencia a la aldea imaginaria de St. Mary Mead, em donde más tarde tendrá su hogar la señorita Marple; hace su primera aparición un personaje secundario, Mr. Goby, que volverá a aparecer en After the Funeral y Third Girl y aparece por primera vez George, el ayuda de cámara de Poirot.

Mi opinión: Agatha Christie reconoció que no le gustaba este libro, escrito en un momento particularmente difícil para ella y sólo porque realmente necesitaba el dinero. En consecuencia, aun admitiendo que he encontrado que tanto el crimen como su solución son bastante ingeniosos, sinceramente creo que la novela está mal planteada y su ejecución es mediocre y defectuosa. Vale la pena mencionar que está escrito en tercera persona. Sin embargo, para mi gusto, su escritura está muy lejos de su nivel habitual y, en conclusión, considero que El misterio del tren azul es una novela totalmente prescindible en el canon de Poirot.

Mi valoración: C (Me ha gustado con algunas reservas)

Serie Negra

11 thoughts on “Review: The Mystery of the Blue Train, 1928 (Hercule Poirot #5) by Agatha Christie

  1. I agree with you, José Ignacio, that this is not Christie’s best. The plotting is clever, but I think she did much better with ‘smaller’ mysteries that don’t have those international intrigue themes, if I can put it that way.

  2. Interesting background to this story, thanks for sharing it. I’ve never read the book but I always thought this episode of the David Suchet adaptations a pretty poor one

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