I read Murder on the Orient Express many years ago, and also while taking a train to boot – but when the announcement that “Cousin Matthew Crawley” was the narrator for the audio version, well, that was just something I was not going to pass up!
The front of the (audio)book cover says “Performed by Dan Stevens“. Performed, not simply “narrated” and that is the absolute truth. Dan Stevens is nothing short of incredible. You would swear there are multiple narrators reading this book! His ability to give the varying men, women, Italians, Russians, French, Americans and Germans all differing, highly credible and individual voices and accents is astonishing. He effortlessly and flawlessly moves between these voices never once tripping over them. His Hercule Poirot voice was absolute perfection. He would also just as quickly and effortlessly switch from dialogue with all the varying accents used into his own narrative voice when reading those narrative portions. Again, it was just astonishing to realize this was but one person narrating the characters in this book!
(As a side note, the Russian princess is described as an old toad of a woman and given a very deep, raspy and masculine voice. I called to make my hair appointment and I swear that very same woman answered the phone and scheduled my appointment! If she wondered why, while I sat in the chair having my cut and colour done, I would just grin at her every time I heard her speak, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to explain to her the reason why, if she asked!) 😉
However, the reason for (re)reading Murder on the Orient Express wasn’t only to hear Dan Stevens (although I highly encourage you to do so!) but because I have never been disappointed when reading the “Queen of Mysteries” and I’ve seem to have hit a little reading slump lately. I decided to load up on the Agatha Christie / Sherlock Holmes stories (read a Sherlock Holmes-based story during this time as well, A Slight Trick of the Mind) because they never disappoint. Christie’s novels are always smart and leave me guessing close to the very end, every single time. She includes many characters and gives every one of them great personality, detail and description. I do enjoy reading mystery novels, but I truly enjoy those that keep with Christie’s style of writing. Once again, and what seems to be an ongoing theme for me lately with enjoyment of books vs. audiobooks, the audiobook knocked it out of the park!
The Murder on the Orient Express is a Hercule Poirot mystery and Dan Stevens couldn’t have done a finer job bringing his character to life. I did listen a few years ago to another Hercule Poirot audiobook, Peril at End House – which was great as well – but Stevens performed the hell out of Murder on the Orient Express. There is just no comparison. Stevens has also narrated (certainly hoping “performed”) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which I will be searching for in audio with certainty.
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. An American lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.
Twelve people, all of varied backgrounds and places, board the Orient Express and when an unexpected delay occurs – one man is found stabbed to death. As the train was stopped in its tracks due to a snowdrift, no one could have gotten on or off the train- therefore – which of the twelve is the murderer? It all becomes astonishing as everyone on board is connected in one way or the other to the man found murdered. Excellent Agatha Christie mystery! And, obviously, based on my gushing above, an excellent audiobook!