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
January 31, 2000
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Excerpt from Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
An Important Passenger
on the Taurus Express
It was five o'clock on a winter's morning in Syria. Alongside the platform at Aleppo stood the train grandly designated in railway guides as the Taurus Express. It consisted of a kitchen and dining-car, a sleeping-car and two local coaches.
By the step leading up into the sleeping-car stood a young French lieutenant, resplendent in uniform, conversing with a small lean man, muffled up to the ears, of whom nothing was visible but a pink-tipped nose and the two points of an upward curled moustache.
It was freezingly cold, and this job of seeing off a distinguished stranger was not one to be envied, but Lieutenant Dubosc performed his part manfully. Graceful phrases fell from his lips in polished French. Not that he knew what it was all about. There had been rumours, of course, as there always were in such cases. The General -- his General's -- temper had grown worse and worse. And then there had come this Belgian stranger -- all the way from England, it seemed. There had been a week -- a week of curious tensity. And then certain things had happened. A very distinguished officer had committed suicide, another had resigned -- anxious faces had suddenly lost their anxiety, certain military precautions were relaxed. And the General -- Lieutenant Dubosc's own particular General -- had suddenly looked ten years younger.