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The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot, #5)
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot Buddy Read 7 SPOILER THREAD: The Mystery of the Blue Train

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Jessica | 377 comments Poirot boards a train...

I don't know about you, but I don't really need more information to look forward to reading this one! But there's more: apparently, it's based on one of the short stories we just read: "The Plymouth Express" (in Poirot's Early Cases), and it has the very first mention of St. Mary's Mead...

This is the thread where you can indulge in spoilers!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Even though this has more thriller than classic puzzle elements, it remains a firm favourite of mine. I especially love the comic moments: when Katherine's old friend calls her housemaid Ellen rather than Helen, since the latter is no name for the 'lower orders'! And the little scenes between Poirot and his valet Georges.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I was interested to read that Christie herself always hated this novel and that she took the plot from a short story she had previously written. It seemed she was still struggling after the collapse of her marriage to Archie.


Roman Clodia | 902 comments That's really interesting background - I know so little about Christie's life. Striking, then, that she's so concerned with troubled relationships, break-ups and divorce in this book - I definitely felt the bitterness between Ruth and Derek Kettering. Hard to believe in Katherine and Derek K as a new couple, though - is that why it's intimated but remains beyond the book, I wonder?


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Papa Poirot just loved to match-make :)


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Yes, and isn't he kind to the love-lorn girl at the end - sweet!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
He is very fond of the ladies, bless him, and generally kind of heart.


Frances (francesab) | 413 comments At one point I'd wondered if Derek Kettering had in fact taken the trip to try to patch things up with his wife-but probably not. Agree that he and Katherine seem an unlikely couple, however I did like the comment of Poirot (I think) that a woman can make either a bad man turn good or a good man go bad-I wonder if Christie is suggesting that Derek simply hadn't yet met the "good woman" that he needed to become a good husband and steady partner. Not sure I believe that, but it is a nice touch!

I also felt sorry for Lenox-perhaps because I see myself so much more in the onlooker than in the beautiful woman who comes in and steals all the hearts! Katherine was such a lovely character, though-particularly when she goes back to nurse that "plain-spoken" (that is rather insulting) woman with the good heart.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
The interesting thing was that Derek had married for money. However, as both he, and Katherine, came into a fortune, they would, presumably, not have that as an issue between them. It was a bittersweet ending, but you wanted Katherine to be happy.


Tara  | 831 comments At one point I was concerned that Katherine might have been the killer (following the adage about keeping your enemies closer), so I was pleased it didn't turn out that way. This was a fun read, so I'm not sure why Christie wasn't a fan.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I think she felt uninspired and stressed in life generally. She took the plot from another short story and so she, sort of, rehashed the plot. I think, as an author, that is probably a last resort - unless you love the story you are writing so much you want to enlarge on it.


Tara  | 831 comments Susan wrote: "I think she felt uninspired and stressed in life generally. She took the plot from another short story and so she, sort of, rehashed the plot. I think, as an author, that is probably a last resort ..."

And we are often our own worst critics, aren't we? But her public enjoyed it, and that's what is most important!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
She was more popular than ever at the time, probably because of the increased media scrutiny. However, she also felt vulnerable and unhappy. Let's see what the next novel has to offer. When you read in order, you get a sense of perspective about her body of work and where she was at the time.


Jessica | 377 comments My theory is that she probably didn't like the book because of the painful memories associated with it. I do not think it is a bad book at all! It's fun, there are indeed so many small comedic moments in it. The puzzle is good, I was torn between different suspects for a long time. It also did rather well on the market, that she didn't think back positively on it could be that thinking back to the time in her life when she wrote it was rather unpleasant itself.


Jessica | 377 comments So what did you guys think of the ever reasonable Poirot with his little grey cells, apparently taking a supernatural encounter at face value?
Do you think he actually believes that Katherine had a genuine experience when she felt that Ruth was warning her about Knighton?

I know that Agatha was intrigued by the supernatural, but I didn't expect Poirot with all his method to stand for it. Actually, writing this down a short story we recently read comes to mind, where Poirot pretended to believe in witchcraft and rituals but as it turned out was playing a role all along. So then, probably he would have regarded the warning more as Katherine subconsciously knowing that something was wrong with Knighton. What do you think?


Elizabeth (Alaska) "It is true that I have the habit of being always right -- but I do not boast of it."

Poirot is much more tolerable on the page than he might ever have been as a real person. I have read (somewhere, don't ask me where), that Christie herself did not like him.

I don't think this is anywhere near her best work. Of the ones I have read, this would be in the lower-third, I think. There are just too many improbables and convenient circumstances.


Tracey | 254 comments I considered Katherine to be the killer too, though had my suspicions over the actual murderers. As anyone new to a job in detective fiction is surely suspect! Though didn't realise how there were working together.

There were a few lines that really made me laugh, especially when Derek meets the Comte "but I should take a good deal of pleasure in kicking you down the Promenade des Anglais"!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Because I am reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles, I fully realized the absence of Hastings in this one. Frankly, I had not paid that much attention, especially because I don't usually read these close together. I have certainly read others, and I think I prefer the ones with Hastings.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I like Hastings too, Elizabeth. He only appears in seven novels, though (although he features in, 'Black Coffee,' which started out life as a play). I think they are, mainly, early ones, and that is why he has such a warm place in our hearts :)


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Really, only seven? How interesting as it feels in my head that Hastings has a greater presence than that!


Jessica | 377 comments Poirot also refers to him too, that keeps Hastings around in spirit! Though I don't know if Poirot keeps referring to his friend in the later books.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Susan wrote: "I like Hastings too, Elizabeth. He only appears in seven novels, though (although he features in, 'Black Coffee,' which started out life as a play). I think they are, mainly, early ones, and that i..."

I must have thought he was in more of them, from watching the TV series.


Robin I think that Christie enjoyed introducing characters who gave Poirot a different audience and foil for his investigation. In The Blue Train there is humour in the Lady Tamplin and Katherine Grey relationship. In this portrait of Katherine we see a spinster who has lived in a small village thinking about other people flourish when given the opportunity to do so. She is an intelligent woman, warm and caring who contributes to the solution. I noticed also that Poirot is very active in this novel.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I think Hastings was in quite a few short stories and inserted into many TV episodes, so he seems a bigger presence than in the books. He is fun, I think, but, after the early books he does come back for the 'final' mystery. I think Christie wrote that, and a final Marple, during the blitz; fearing she would die and wanting to finish the series for fans. Thankfully, they were not needed for many years!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Yes, you're right, the short stories make him feel like he's around more. And Jessica's point about Poirot talking about him even when he's absent.

I do love the books told by Hastings: Christie uses him cleverly so that even though we like him, we also know not to trust his evaluation of any case!


Frances (francesab) | 413 comments Yes, I at least know that whatever Hastings thinks is wrong so I can forget about that person as a suspect!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Frances wrote: "Yes, I at least know that whatever Hastings thinks is wrong so I can forget about that person as a suspect!"

Except in this case, he was right, and right from the beginning. Which, of course, threw me off.


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