What is murder on the Orient Express

Summary of Murder on the Orient Express

The golden age of the sniffer dogs

Edgar Allan Poe launched C. August Dupin, the first master detective, in 1841. Arthur Conan Doyle 40 years later gave Sherlock Holmes a tartan coat and magnifying glass. But they were British women like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayersthat gave the sophisticated detectives a career boost in the 1920s and 1930s: More than 17 million people were killed in the First World War, emperors were overthrown and revolutions broke out, bars and stock exchanges were already rampant again decadence - but the world was still all right in the cozy country houses and luxury hotels of the detective novels: the golden pocket watches of the upper class seemed to have stopped in the Victorian era.

Similar to the female body in the 19th century, the genre was stuck in a tight corset of rules: After that, a mysterious murder takes place in a place that is as secluded as possible, logical considerations lead to the success of the investigation, and people are always killed for personal reasons. Sex and violence, international and political entanglements or social grievances are taboo. No wonder that the golden age of apolitical crime came to an end with the beginning of World War II. Nevertheless, many of the knitting patterns coined at the time live on in the more complex crime novels of the present.


Agatha Christie was freshly divorced when she first took the Simplon Orient Express to Baghdad in 1928 - a journey that would change her life. She fell in love several times: with her second husband, a young archaeologist, with the secrets of the Middle East and, last but not least, with being on the move: “Traveling has the essence of a dream. It's populated by people you've never seen before and in all probability will never see again. ”Christie got to know people like the non-stop chattering American with whom she was stuck on the Orient Express for 24 hours due to heavy rain in December 1931 she made a memorial with Mrs. Hubbard in her novel.

The author not only processed her own experiences, but also the big headlines of her time: In February of the historically cold winter of 1929, the Orient Express in Turkey was stuck in the snow for almost six days. Three years later became the son of the American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh kidnapped and murdered despite paying a $ 50,000 ransom. A wrongly accused maid committed suicide. When Christie dealt with the material in 1933, the kidnapper was not yet captured - a circumstance that may have encouraged the fictional motive for revenge. Christie was an advocate of the death penalty and saw killers as "evil for society" who deserved no sparing. Rather, it is important to “protect the innocent”. After a short creative period ("I see no reason why a month should not be enough to write a book") appeared Murder on the Orient Express on January 1, 1934 in London.

Impact history

Most of the reviewers were full of praise: Agatha Christie managed to make an improbable plot seem realistic while keeping the tension up to the last page. Others shared vigorously: "This is the kind to which even the keenest mind surrenders," sneered the American crime writer Raymond Chandler 1944 in his polemic Murder is not an art. The literary critic Edmund Wilson castigated Christie's works as maudlin and banal, populated by artificial, one-dimensional figures and therefore "literally illegible". He compared fans of the genre to addicts who were constantly looking for excuses to justify their vice. It must have worried him all the more, as even great writers indulged in this vice: Allegedly, they let themselves Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht like to be entertained by the "Queen of Crime".

The bestselling author never intended anything else. Agatha Christie's circulation figures are second only to the Bible, and her fortune was estimated at half a billion pounds at the time of her death. Novels like Murder on the Orient Express, which she herself counted among her ten best, have long since arrived in pop culture: for the first time in 1974 by Sidney Lumet Filmed with an international star cast, the canon of adaptations ranges from sketch show parodies and muppet show parodies to nostalgic themed train journeys (including murder) to computer games for budding master detectives.