First up, The Tuesday Club Murders (A Miss Marple Mystery). I loved the premise of this one. A group of acquaintances at a dinner party decide to swap crime stories the next time they meet. The idea is that the person telling the story knows the outcome but the other guests have to guess who the criminal is. Everyone is very excited by the idea but they ignore one guest- Miss Marple. Being polite Brits, they let her play along sure she'll have little to contribute to the fun. As they tell their stories one by one, the other guests find the solutions to the crimes impossible to figure out, except for one person...
Here's what a learned from The Tuesday Club Murders: never turn your back on a Brit, they will put a knife in it. Okay, I know that's not true but you would think it from the characters' experiences in the book. Just about everyone of them had personal knowledge of a murder, not just "hey I read this article" no... no... they had friends and relatives that murdered their spouses or friends. I don't think I want to hang out these people. They are bad mojo.
I loved the stories they told. A few times I was close to solving the crime but never quite got all the pieces to fit. It was hilarious how they all would roll their eyes when Miss Marple would say, "This reminds of someone in the village..." and then how they would be shocked when she had it all figured out. Each story had an seemingly insignificant piece of information that would break the case open. I tried to find every time but usually couldn't get it. Agatha Christie was a genius.
I also loved the idea of the Tuesday Club, despite the morbid tone of the stories. I guess that's why people play Clue instead, no one is actually murdered for that game. Still, it would be fun to have an evening of this kind of entertainment.
Murder on the Orient Express involves Christie's other favorite detective, Hercule Poirot. Poirot is on his way to London for another case using the famous Orient Express as his transportation. The car he is staying in is filled with a variety of characters: a villainous looking American, a governess, a fussy old lady, a Countess, and several others. When the train gets stuck in a snowbank, it is discovered that the dodgy looking American has been murdered,- stabbed 12 times in his bed!- the train's director begs Poirot to solve the case.
I made the mistake of watching the Masterpiece Theatre production of Murder on the Orient Express, before I read the book. Still, I was surprised by how much I missed just watching the movie. I enjoyed the characterization of each of the players. Sometimes they were a bit stereotypical and the characters would often make sweeping generalizations: "The English don't do the stab. They are too cold," "Women always stab," "Americans will pay anything." They also dismiss Poirot as 'that funny little foreigner.'
One of the main differences between the movie and the book is the moralizing tone the movie takes. It's as if the producers were making clear that people must not take the law into their own hands. The book takes a different view of the crime. I'll let you see that for yourself.
Murder on the Orient Express reminded me a lot of And Then There Were None. The similarities being that a number of people are trapped together with no escape, only in the latter case all the characters are murdered. Christie came up with the idea for the book after her train had been stopped due to a flood.
I didn't find this book to be as much fun as The Tuesday Murder Club but I did enjoy it. I wish I had read it before watching the movie though.