Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks in the middle of Yugoslavia. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for this time of year. But by morning there is one passenger less. A `respectable American gentleman' lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Hercule Poirot is also aboard, having arrived in the nick of time to claim a second-class compartment -- and the most astounding case of his illustrious career.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
March 28, 2007
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Excerpt from Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
In the hall of the Tigris Palace Hotel in Baghdad a hospital nurse was finishing a letter. Her fountain-pen drove briskly over the paper.
... Well, dear, I think that's really all my news. I must say it's been nice to see a bit of the world -- though England for me every time, thank you. The dirt and the mess in Baghdad you wouldn't believe -- and not romantic at all like you'd think from the Arabian Nights! Of course, it's pretty just on the river, but the town itself is just awful -- and no proper shops at all. Major Kelsey took me through the bazaars, and of course there's no denying they're quaint -- but just a lot of rubbish and hammering away at copper pans till they make your headache -- and not what I'd like to use myself unless I was sure about the cleaning. You've got to be so careful of verdigris with copper pans.
I'll write and let you know if anything comes of the job that Dr Reilly spoke about. He said this American gentleman was in Baghdad now and might come and see me this afternoon. It's for his wife -- she has 'fancies', so Dr Reilly said. He didn't say any more than that, and of course, dear, one knows what that usually means (but I hope not actually D.T.s!). Of course, Dr Reilly didn't say anything -- but he had a look -- if you know what I mean. This Dr Leidner is an archaeologist and is digging up a mound out in the desert somewhere for some American museum.
Well, dear, I will close now. I thought what you told me about little Stubbins was simply killing! Whatever did Matron say?
No more now.
Enclosing the letter in an envelope, she addressed it to Sister Curshaw, St Christopher's Hospital, London. As she put the cap on her fountain-pen, one of the native boys approached her.
'A gentleman come to see you. Dr Leidner.'
Nurse Leatheran turned. She saw a man of middle height with slightly stooping shoulders, a brown beard and gentle, tired eyes.
Dr Leidner saw a woman of thirty-five, of erect, confident bearing. He saw a good-humoured face with slightly prominent blue eyes and glossy brown hair. She looked, he thought, just what a hospital nurse for a nervous case ought to look. Cheerful, robust, shrewd and matter-of-fact.
Nurse Leatheran, he thought, would do.