RogerBW's Blog

Murder On the Orient Express 19 February 2022

1992 audio adaptation by Michael Bakewell of Christie's 1934 mystery, in five 30-minute episodes. The nasty American has been stabbed in his berth, but even Poirot seems unable to make sense of the evidence.

Without getting spoilery, this is one of the stories in which Christie tested the limits of the detective form, and experimented in what one could get away with by playing on the reader's assumptions about what could happen in a mystery story. What this means in practice is that there's the potential for a lot of frustration as the trick is set up.

By sticking fairly closely to the text, Bakewell takes the safe path: if you don't like it, well, you probably wouldn't have liked the book either. (Though the form of a radio series suffers more from the number of important characters than the book does; in the book we don't have to try to tell them apart by voice.) John Moffatt does a decent job as Poirot, and he's helped by a solid cast including Joss Ackland as the victim and Francesca Annis being very calm and collected as Miss Debenham.

This is Christie on form and, if the adaptation is uninspired, it's still a solid and workable one.

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