Katherine Grey has come into a large inheritance so decides to go to the French Riviera with the upper crust of British society for the winter and takes the Blue Train to Nice, where she meets both Ruth Kettering and Hercule Poirot in The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. Upon arriving in Nice, Katherine is asked to remain to answer questions about Ruth, for the daughter of the American millionaire Rufus Van Aldin has been strangled, her face disfigured, and her famous ruby, the Heart of Fire, stolen. The suspects include her estranged husband, Derek Kettering, and the man who calls himself the Compte de la Roche, a known villain who preys upon rich women and is known to have his sites set on the ruby. Though retired, Hercule Poirot offers his services in this case since he was on the scene, and he offers to Katherine the opportunity to be his partner.
The Mystery of the Blue Train is a nice read and enjoyable book that easily withstands the weight of time. I particularly enjoyed the strong female character of Katharine Grey, who refuses to let her sensible nature be affected by either the riches endowed to her or the attentions lavished upon her by both Derek Kettering and the secretary of Rufus Van Aldin.
Written during a distressing period of Christie’s life, with the death of her mother, the abandonment of her husband for another woman, and an emotional break-down that led to her still-unexplained disappearance for 10 days, this book was reportedly one of Christie’s least favorite novels and does leave some minor details untied. Some view the glamour found in the book as extraneous sensationalism, but I think Christie still manages to pull off the book well, despite all her negative comments about it. While not being one of Christie’s greatest books, The Mystery of the Blue Train is still very fun.
The audio version of this book is performed by John Moffett. While not Hugh Fraser, my favorite British male narrator, Moffett does a very good job of voicing the characters and creates a strong sense of suspense. He also does well with the various accents found in the book.
Despite Christie’s low opinion of her own book, I think The Mystery of the Blue Train is highly enjoyable and entertains the listeners very well. I give the book four stars!
The Mystery of the Blue Train is available in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click here. You may also find the book in your local library or bookstore.