I decided to finally read some Agatha Christie and started with one of her most famous books, “Murder on the Orient Express,” where I was first introduced to her beloved protagonist and detective, Hercule Poirot.
I’ve learned that is somewhat of a literary travesty – apparently M. Poirot is one of the most famous fictional detectives in the world, on par with the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe. But I can’t remember ever hearing his name before I started reading “Murder on the Orient Express.” I think the reasons for this can be summed up in two points:
- His absence from popular culture. Sherlock Holmes has, most recently, Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and even Hugh Laurie. Veronica Mars pays homage to both Nancy Drew and the gritty detectives of film noir. I’ve never seen any of “Murder, She Wrote,” but I know that Angela Lansbury – aka. the maid from “Gaslight,” aka. the original Mrs. Lovett, aka. Mrs. Potts from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – starred in it and that I should marathon it eventually. But Hercule Poirot? It might be different in Britain, but he’s certainly missing from American pop culture. It’s Agatha Christie herself who seems to be the most familiar figure of her franchise; she had a life full of excitement and drama and even ‘guest-starred’ on a episode of Doctor Who.
- My absence from literary culture. The entire above paragraph would be moot if I were still the avid reader I used to be. The amount of books I used to check out from the library at a single time would be the amount I could carry in my arms. I still read books, but mostly I read celebrity gossip blogs while streaming TV shows. It’s shameful. I want to be a bookworm again, which is why I decided to dive into some classic Agatha Christie in the first place. Only now I feel like I’ve come full circle by sliding in sideways.
In any case (pun unintended, I’m leaving it in), I find M. Poirot to be an interesting character. He’s fastidious, genre-savvy, a prime example of Obfuscating Stupidity, and very slightly badass. One conversation basically goes like this:
Man: You’re going to do a job for me, like it or not.
Poirot: Yeah, I don’t think so.
Man: And what makes you say that?
Poirot: ‘CAUSE I DON’T LIKE YOUR FACE.
Next up: “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” probably.