Le Train Bleu, the ideal way to get to the French Riviera. Katherine Grey, ex-resident of St Mary Mead, has come into an inheritance and has taken the train for her first trip abroad. Also aboard is Ruth Kettering, another heiress, who has split from her husband and is carrying with her an extremely expensive ruby. Needless to say (given this is an Agatha Christie novel) before the train reaches the Riviera, Ruth is found strangled. The ruby is missing – was it a case of jewel theft, or something more personal?
Luckily, Katherine has help as she tries to find identify the killer – for a certain M. Hercule Poirot is also travelling on the train. And while suspicion falls upon Ruth’s husband, Poirot has other ideas…
This is the fifth Poirot novel, although there had at this point also been a bundle of short stories, including The Plymouth Express, which this is based on, apparently. So far, the hit rate for the Belgian has basically gone Good (Styles), Reasonably Good (Links), Classic (Ackroyd) and Dreadful (The Big Four). And it would be another four years until Poirot reappeared in Peril At End House. And even more oddly, this is the first time that I’ve read this one.
I’m not entirely sure why not – it doesn’t have the dreadful reputation of The Big Four (which I also haven’t read) – but for some reason it passed me by when I first dove headfirst into Christie. And it’s a shame, as it’s rather good – odd, given that it was apparently Christie’s least favourite Poirot outing.
The character of Katherine, a young iteration of Miss Marple, is a good compliment to Poirot, who is on fine form here, playing along with the police at times, and is wonderfully condescending to them as they get the wrong end of the stick.
As for the killer? Reasonably well hidden, and while I spotted about half of the solution, I missed the other important bit.
So, to my surprise, I rather enjoyed this one. Well Worth A Look.