Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Re-Visting a Classic

When was the last time you treated yourself to a read of “Murder on the Orient Express,” the Agatha Christie classic?

I know, I know . . . there are so many fabulous new books coming out all the time. Who has the luxury of diving into a book that’s nearly 80 years old?

Still, there is something about “Orient Express” that is so evocative of a different time and a different place and a different lifestyle, it’s worth the few night’s read. Just imagine . . .

It’s 1934 and there you are, plunked down smack dab in the middle of a mystery on the world’s most luxurious and storied train, the Orient Express. As you read, you find yourself headed to London along with the other first-class passengers, an assortment of interesting characters that includes a Russian Princess, a countess, a chauffeur, a governess, and oh yes . . . the brilliant and picky world-renown detective, Hercule Poirot.

A particularly unlikable passenger is murdered and this, of course, is not only shocking, but mystifying as well. You see, during the night of the murder, a snowstorm has stranded the train in the middle of nowhere. No one’s gotten on. And certainly, no one’s gotten off.

That means the murderer is still there among the 13 passengers.

What Christie does with this set-up is both legendary and brilliant and even if you know the ending (I’m pretty convinced everybody does since it’s so famous), reading your way there is such a treat!

Reading and enjoying classic like “Orient Express” is what propelled me to write the League of Literary Ladies mystery series and next Tuesday, June 4, the first one hits bookstore shelves. It’s called “Mayhem at the Orient Express” and I use the premise of a book discussion group reading Christie to set up a murder that’s awfully familiar:

A body in a restaurant called “The Orient Express.”

Thirteen suspects staying in an island B&B.

And a snowstorm that traps them all in place. No one can get on the island, and no one can get off. The murderer is among the guests, and now, the book discussion group comprised of four unlikely friends has to use Christie as inspiration to solve the murder.

“Mayhem” was a whole lot of fun to write. It gave me a chance to play with South Bass Island in Lake Erie as a setting, to explore the ins and outs of women’s friendships and, of course, it was the perfect excuse to re-read “Murder on the Orient Express.”

What could be better than that!


BW said...

I love "Murder on the Orient Express". I love both the book and the movie. It's inspiration, as you well know, was the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping. I use to live with a guy whose mother was one of the court stenographer for that case.

Casey said...

Wow, what a great connection, BW. And what an interesting, and tragic, case. I think my favorite Orient Express adaptation is the PBS one.