England and French Riviera – The Mystery of the Blue Train Agatha Christie

the-mystery-of-the-blue-train

Why a booktrail?

Not the infamous Orient Express maybe, but when a woman is found murdered on the train, Poirot comes on board.

Story in a nutshell

When the luxurious Blue Train pulls into the station at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering who is still sleeping in her compartment. He is shocked to discover that she is dead and has been felled by a heavy blow  – her features almost unrecognizable. Ruth Kettering was the daughter of an American millionaire and her rubies appear to be missing…

Poirot is called to investigate but he’s not sure that the prime suspect – Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek is the murderer, so he stages an exact and chilling re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Place and setting

LONDON - Victoria Station Where the train departs from Paris - Place de la Concorde A little man with a face like a  rat crosses the Place de la Concorde France - South of France - France Riviera - Cannes When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform France - South of France - France Riviera - Nice The final destination of the train
LONDON – Victoria Station
Where the train departs from
FRANCE – Paris – Place de la Concorde
A little man with a face like a rat crosses the Place de la Concorde
France – South of France – France Riviera – Cannes
When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform
France – South of France – France Riviera – Nice
The final destination of the train

Train travel Agatha Christie style? Maybe keep one eye open when you sleep and always look over your shoulder when awake as murders appear to take place on her trains. This might not be the famous Orient Express but it’s a journey which ends in murder all the same.

A leisurely journey by train to the French Riviera might sound nice but poor Ruth is found dead – strangled in her carriage with her ruby “Heart of fire’ missing. This valuable stone had been given to her by her father. Ruth’s husband was on the train but he claims not to have seen Ruth. Others say he did.

Ruth’s maid is another strange character on the train, mixed up in the events of that day. In fact there are a range of strange characters with dubious backgrounds that Poirot finds it hard to understand at first.

The reenactment – like a reconstruction of the crime and the events is eerily evoked. Taking place just after the real crime and in such a closed space, the atmosphere is eerily evoked.

Old fashioned murder investigations resume  – with a potential jewel thief, a rich woman dead on a train and a cigarette case with the letter K engraved on it.

The plot of this novel is based on the 1923 Poirot short story  ‘The Plymouth Express’ and features the first mention and description of the fictional village St Mary Mead where Christie’s later Miss Marple stories would be set.

Revisiting literary friends……Agatha Christie

AGATHA1

Books often take you places you never would have gone before. Agatha Christie for me is one such author who has taken me to places I really wish did exist – St Mary Mead for example -although the murder rate is quite high there so maybe not sure about that one.

Still, the places such as Gossington Hall, the inside of the Orient Express,  Betrams hotel are memories which will stay with me for ever. They’ve lasted like faded photographs in  my mind ever since I read them and now with the TV adaptation of her Tommy and Tuppence novels, I thought it was nice to reread them.

Oh and it was like visiting an old friend, seeing the places again that I knew as a child, the very first day an English teacher handed me my first Agatha Christie – A Murder Is Announced – and said “I think you’ll like this”

How do you feel when you wander back into a book you’ve known and loved for years? It felt like wandering back into a house I used to visit frequently, friends I used to know, wondering what has changed and what has stayed the same. Of course it was me who now was older and arguably wiser, now having read many crime and mystery books based on forensics and more brutal cases would my visit to the past be a good one?

Well yes it was and more. For it was like opening up an old treasure trove and marvelling at a time when there was no technology that we rely on today, that clever old Miss Marple who would sit and knit and observe……the head bobbing over the hedge as she listened to some secret chatter, the excitement of wandering into Gossington Hall when it was still owned by the colonel and then when it is taken over by an American actress…

Aah Agatha, your crime stories have stood the test of time for me – they are classics, photos in my memory box, recollections in my mind.

tOMMY

As for Tommy and Tuppence, I had met these two in the story N or M and now they are being republished with the TV images of David Walliams and Jessica Raine as the crime busting couple. A new chance to reconnect with two old friends!

Now then, I think a cup of tea is in order, a comfy rug and a good Christie in preparation for tonight’s visit with Tommy and Tuppence on BBC.

How did you feel reconnecting with characters from your past? Is it good to meet old literary friends?

Murder on the Orient Express – Turkey, The Balkans -Croatia – Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

Why a booktrail?

Perhaps the most iconic train journey of all time…ends in murder

Story in a nutshell

Private Detective Hercule Poirot arrives at the Tokatlian hotel in Istanbul where he receives a message causing him to change his plans and return  to London. He books a first class compartment on the famous Orient Express which is due to leave that night.

Once on board, he meets an American business man Mr Ratchett who had also been at the hotel earlier. He explains his life is in danger and that he wants Poirot’s help. Poirot however refuses.

On the second night of the journey, the train gets stuck in a snowdrift near Vinkovci and so they are forced to sit still for a while. However in the morning, it becomes clear that the snowdrift is the least of their worries – the body of Mr Ratchett is found in his bed.

Place and Setting

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah Mesrutiyet Cad No: 52, Tepebasi Room 411 at the hotel is where Agatha Christie often stayed and legend has it that she wrote the novel Murder on the Orient Express here. The room is very evocative of the time and mood of the novel https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/istanbul/pera-palace-hotel-jumeirah/rooms-and-suites/agatha-christie-room-king/
Turkey – Istanbul – Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah
Mesrutiyet Cad No: 52, Tepebasi
Room 411 at the hotel is where Agatha Christie often stayed and legend has it that she wrote the novel Murder on the Orient Express here. The room is very evocative of the time and mood of the novel
https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/istanbul/pera-palace-hotel-jumeirah/rooms-and-suites/agatha-christie-room-king/

The setting of the closed room murder, a body found on a train  in a locked compartment….a train aught up a snow drift miles from the nearest station…

The classic train is one full of individual compartments and dark wooden panels. First class passengers have dinner in the posh dining car, women dress in stylish outfits and the mood is set for a calm and peaceful journey through various countries with the landscape flying by….

Poirot like many others on the train has an individual compartment. During the night of the murder, he hears a few strange noises such as a scream,someone talking in French and the bell calling the porter. The train stops – in the remote and dark countryside – with only the trees and the snowy landscape for company. When the body is found – with the door locked from the inside and all passengers still on board, the mystery of the Orient Express begins…

The room is examined as is the sighting of a woman in a kimono earlier that night. The dead man had been stabbed 12 times and a broken pocket watch is found on his person. The passengers all come from  different  backgrounds and are of varying nationalities so the international aspect of the murder adds a unique layer. Poirot agrees to take on the case in the hope that he can find some answers before the Yugoslav police have to take over.

A train – everyone trapped both in the snow and the scene of the crime….

Real life inspiration

The  story was apparently inspired by a journey Agatha Christie actually had on the very train. (Her biography includes a letter about the time she took the train and got stuck in a flood). The case which starts the story – that of the missing girl – is said to have been inspired by the Lindbergh Case of 1932.