Audiobook Review: Murder on the Orient Express, Read by Kenneth Branagh

In addition to directing the new version of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh expertly narrates a new audiobook recording of this classic Poirot mystery.

Before you read any further, I have a confession to make. While I like to think of myself as being fairly well-read, and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most widely read mysteries ever, this audiobook marks only my second foray into Christie’s work—the first of which took place mere months ago when I picked up And Then There Were None as a quick summer weekend read. That same weekend, I purchased a copy of Murder on the Orient Express at a local bookstore in hopes of tackling it before the latest film adaptation hit theaters in November. Fortunately, I never actually got around to reading that paperback, so I got to experience the story for the first time through the vocal talents of Kenneth Branagh.

Kenneth Branagh may seem like the obvious choice to narrate this new production of Christie’s classic whodunit given that he both directs and stars in the aforementioned adaptation and too many other films and TV shows to name here. But what new listeners may not know is that Branagh boasts a wealth of audiobook narration credits. His work includes other classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shakespeare’s King Lear and Richard III, Ian Flemming’s The Man with the Golden Gun, and C. S. Lewis’s The Magician's Nephew.

Branagh’s narration experience is nearly palpable throughout this performance as he transitions with ease between Hercule Poirot’s French accent and the ranging accents of the other passengers on the Orient Express—from Swedish and Italian to the hard Rs of the Americans onboard. His skill with accents helps keep the characters clearly defined for the listener, avoiding some of the confusion that can happen when actors only subtly differentiate the voices participating in the dialog. Branagh is so good, in fact, that I found myself listening to this program without speeding it up—I’m typically at least a 1.5-speed listener. The pacing is spot on.

As for the plot, I’ll leave that exposition to the myriad other Christie reviews already out there on the internet. The high-level summary can be captured in a single quote: “The murderer is with us—on the train now….”

But what I will say is that I did not see that ending coming, and I certainly wasn’t mad about it (which I couldn’t say for my reaction to the ending of And Then There Were None). How I managed to make it 27 years without having it spoiled for me is nothing short of a miracle.

Listen to an excerpt of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express:

 

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Danielle Prielipp is from Michigan and works in marketing for St. Martin’s Press. When she’s not reading, you can often find her binge-watching bad TV on Netflix, running far too many miles, or hanging out with her very cute dog. Pictures available on request. Follow her on twitter @thesweetdee.

 
 

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