Murder on the Orient Express (1934) by Agatha Christie
Last year I was suddenly gripped by one of my occasional oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-yet-read-so-and-so-gotta-fix-that-error-NOW attacks- this time, it was Agatha Christie. I know. How was it possible that I hadn't read any of her books yet?
Well, that situation was rectified toute de suite, I can tell you that much. Off I went to my university library and there I procured a lovely old ratty edition of five Christie mysteries all in one volume. Good times, you guys, good times.
I instantly fell in love with the quirky little Hercule Poirot, because how can you not? He's charming, brilliant, and witty. And he solves murder cases like the rest of us walk and breathe. Dude's fantastic.
It was Murder on the Orient Express, though, that really caught my fancy. Here's Poirot, trapped on a train with quite the motley, sketchy bunch, and someone's murdered, and the murderer is still on the train. So who you gonna call? No, not the Ghostbusters; Poirot!
And once again, as with Fight Club and the film The Sixth Sense and countless other works, my instinct for suspending disbelief kicked in. I became immersed in the mystery, and felt like I was really trying to figure out who did the deed, knowing all the while that a little part of my brain was withholding information so that I wouldn't figure it out until faithful old Poirot laid it all out for me. And the big reveal- it was everything I had hoped it would be.
Anyway, it's all here: a strange group of passengers who all act suspiciously; a series of interviews during which Poirot asks lots of questions that are really just decoys; and a mysterious murder that is ultimately solved by the feisty and brilliant Poirot.
No wonder Christie's novels are planet-wide bestsellers, topped only by the Bible and Shakespeare (or so I've read somewhere or other). So go read Christie, but like the oft-cited potato chip, you really can't have just one.