Agatha Christie had started writing The Mystery of the Blue Train while she was going through a rough patch in her personal life. Christie had already put out a book that she did not like (The Big Four) and according to her autobiography she never really liked The Mystery of the Blue Train either. While I agree with Christie’s self-assessment on The Big Four, when it comes to The Mystery of the Blue Train I think she was just being too hard on herself.
As the title suggests, the crime takes place on ‘Le Train Bleu,’ a luxury French night express train. In her carriage Ruth Kettering, a wealthy, beautiful heiress is murdered by strangulation. Ruth’s father, a millionaire from America is devastated by the loss of his only child and hires Poirot to find the murderer. Who had the motive to kill Ruth? Derek, Ruth’s husband is a notorious lecher, and Ruth was about to begin divorce proceedings. If Ruth had gone through with it, that would have been a hit to Derek’s lifestyle as he funded his dalliances using Ruth’s money. Add to that, Derek has also been on the same train at the time with his temperamental mistress, Mirelle. Then there’s Comte de La Roche, an old flame of Ruth’s. Comte de La Roche is a ladies’ man and a scoundrel who is known for swindling his lovers. Ruth was taking the Blue Train to meet Comte de La Roche in Nice, and she had three rare rubies her father gifted her in her possession as Comte de La Roche wanted to see them. By the time Ruth’s body is discovered there’s no sign of jewels in her carriage, so did Comte de La Roche kill Ruth to steal her rubies?
The Mystery of the Blue Train has a clever plot. It was slow moving at first, with no mention of Poirot or signs of a crime. Instead, the story was devoted to explaining the position Ruth and by extent, her doting father were in, possibly because of the stigma attached to divorces at the time (I believe it also mirrored what Christie was going through). But I didn’t find it to be overbearing, and all in all, The Mystery of the Blue Train was an enjoyable read.
TV adaptation of The Mystery of the Blue Train is yet again different from the book. There are some additions to the story line (a back story is added to Ruth’s mother) which I felt unnecessary. And there are some complete diversions from the book (Mirelle is Ruth’s father’s mistress, not her husband’s! It beats me why it was done so!). But compared to previous adaptations I’ve watched this one is not too bad. At least it preserves the essence of the plot!
It’s a draw. 😀