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LOIS WINSTON aka ANASTASIA POLLOCK blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Some of you may recognize Lois Winston, a soon-to-be published author of cozy mysteries who is previously published in contemporary romance. Lois' blog is popular with our regulars, several of whom have won books in her contests. 


Lois is blogging about Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS - a book that caught her attention because she couldn't solve the mystery. I'm sure Lois is not alone in that!

 

 

 

BIO

 
Lois Winston straddles two worlds. She's an award-winning
author of romantic suspense, humorous women's fiction, and
mystery. She's also an award-winning designer of needlework
and crafts projects for magazines, craft book publishers, and
craft kit manufacturers.

 

Like Anastasia, the protagonist in her ANASTASIA POLLACK

CRAFTING MYSTERIES series, Lois worked for several years

as a crafts editor. A graduate of the prestigious Tyler School

of Art, she often draws on her art and design background for

much of the source material in her fiction. She lives with her

husband a stone's throw from Manhattan (assuming you can

throw a stone across the Hudson River.)

 

http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com/

 

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers

the blog of Anastasia Pollack, crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth

 

 

http://www.loiswinston.com/

 

lois2010-verysmall_file.jpg
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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

 

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun 

 

When Anastasia Pollack's husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. She's left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful, cane-wielding Communist motherin-law. Not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband's secret gambling addiction, and the loan shark who's demanding fifty thousand dollars.


Anastasia's job as crafts editor for a magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her office chair. The victim, fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg, collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos on her ruthless climb to editor-in-chief. But when evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the number one suspect.

 

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

[ Edited ]

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: One huge curve of an ending

 


by Lois Winston


I’ll be the first to admit I’m far from an Agatha Christie expert. However, as I think back over my journey from writing romance and women’s fiction to writing mysteries, I believe the seeds may have been planted years ago while watching MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

 

 



You see, I have this maddening habit of being able to figure out whodunit very early on in a mystery. Doesn’t matter if it’s a book, movie, or TV episode. My husband has made me promise not to say a word while we’re watching mysteries, even if he says something like, “He’s the killer, right?” I have to remind him that I’m not supposed to offer an opinion until the credits roll so that I don’t spoil the ending for him.

I once attended a screenwriting workshop where the instructor asked us to raise our hands if we’d figured out the ending to THE SIXTH SENSE before the dramatic conclusion of the movie. Mine was the only hand raised, and not only had I figure the ending out ahead of time, I’d figured it out in the first scene of the movie.

I think this knack for ferreting out whodunit is a trait inherited from my grandfather. Grandpa Ben was a police detective back in the heyday of gangsters and organized crime and was responsible for helping capture and lock up some very notorious felons. Who knows? If I’d been born a few years later, I might have gone into police work, but back when I was contemplating a career, such an option wasn’t even on my radar.

So, you might ask, what does all this have to do with Agatha Christie and my personal author journey from writing romance and women’s fiction to writing a mystery series? It all harkens back to that evening in 1974 when my husband and I went to the movies to see MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. To my utter shock and amazement, I couldn’t figure out whodunit! Not only couldn’t I figure out whodunit, but then Dame Agatha threw me one huge curve of an ending. I remember sitting there thinking, “Well done!” (For any of you who may never have read or seen MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, I won’t divulging the ending here.)

There’s an old saying, that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” That saying might be true for many things but not for well-written mysteries. If a mystery author fools me, that author has a fan for life. Even though Anastasia Pollack, my own amateur sleuth, is far more Stephanie Plum than Miss Marple, Dame Agatha will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first mystery author able to fool Ben Schaffer’s granddaughter. And for that, I thank her and hope my own mysteries will give readers the kind of wonderful surprise she gave me 36 years ago.

Today I’m also blogging over at Inkspot  http://www.midnightwriters.blogspot.com/, the Midnight Ink authors group blog. I talk about Dame Agatha’s 11 day disappearance in 1926 and the coincidence of another celebrity disappearance that year. I hope you’ll stop by.

 

InkSpot

Lois Winston is previously published in women’s fiction and romantic suspense. ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series comes out January 1st from Midnight Ink Books. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Murder on the Orient Express First Edition Cover 1934.jpg

 

From Wikipedia:

 

Murder on the Orient Express is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie featuring the Belgiandetective Hercule Poirot.

It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on January 1, 1934[1] and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year under the title of Murder in the Calais Coach.[2][3] The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6)[4] and the US edition at$2.00.[3]

The US title of Murder on the Calais Coach was used to avoid confusion with the 1932 Graham Greene novel Stamboul Train which had been published in the US as Orient Express.[5]

 

The Crime

Returning from an important case in Palestine, Hercule Poirot boards the Orient Express in Istanbul. The train is unusually crowded for the time of year. Poirot secures a berth only with the help of his friend M. Bouc, a director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. When a Mr. Harris fails to show up, Poirot takes his place. On the second night, Poirot gets a compartment to himself.

That night, near Belgrade, at about twenty-three minutes before 1:00 am, Poirot wakes to the sound of a loud noise. It seems to come from the compartment next to his, which is occupied by Mr. Ratchett. When Poirot peeks out his door, he sees the conductor knock on Mr. Ratchett's door and ask if he is all right. A man replies in French "Ce n'est rien. Je me suis trompé", which means "It's nothing. I made a mistake", and the conductor moves on to answer a bell down the passage. Poirot decides to go back to bed, but he is disturbed by the fact that the train is unusually still and his mouth is dry.

As he lies awake, he hears Mrs. Hubbard ringing the bell urgently. When Poirot then rings the conductor for a bottle of mineral water, he learns that Mrs. Hubbard was afraid that someone had been in her compartment.(no one is in the compartment) He also learns that the train has stopped due to a snowstorm. Poirot dismisses the conductor and tries to go back to sleep, only to be wakened again by a thump on his door. This time when Poirot gets up and looks out of his compartment, the passage is completely silent, and he sees nothing except the back of a woman in a scarlet kimono retreating down the passage in the distance.

The next day he awakens to find that Ratchett is dead, having been stabbed twelve times in his sleep.

 


 

 

 

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Characters

The Victim:

  • Samuel Edward Ratchett (Cassetti), an unsavoury-looking man with a dark secret.

The Suspects:

  • Hector Willard MacQueen, a tall, handsome, young American, the victim's secretary and translator.
  • Edward Henry Masterman, the victim's British valet.
  • Pierre Michel, the French conductor of the Calais coach.
  • Mary Hermione Debenham, a tall, dark, young British woman, working as a governess in Baghdad.
  • Colonel Arbuthnot, a tall British army officer returning from India.
  • Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, an imperious, elderly Russian noblewoman and grande dame.
  • Hildegarde Schmidt, a middle-aged German woman, Princess Dragomiroff's lady's maid.
  • Count Rudolph Andrenyi, a tall, dark Hungarian diplomat with English manner and clothing, travelling to France.
  • Countess Helena/Elena Andrenyi, the Count's pale young wife.
  • Greta Ohlsson, a middle-aged blonde Swedish missionary returning home for a vacation who cannot speak much English.
  • Mrs. Caroline Martha Hubbard, a plump, elderly, very excitable American returning from a visit to her daughter, a teacher in Baghdad.
  • Antonio Foscarelli, a swarthy and exuberant Italian businessman.
  • Cyrus Bethman Hardman, a private investigator from New York City.

The Investigators:

  • Hercule Poirot – The Detective
  • Monsieur Bouc – The Director
  • Dr. Stavros Constantine – The Doctor
REFERENCES TO ACTUAL HISTORY:

The Armstrong kidnapping case was based on the actual kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's son in 1932, just before the book was written. A maid employed by Mrs. Lindbergh's parents was suspected of involvement in the crime, and after being harshly interrogated by police, committed suicide.

Another, less-remembered, real-life event also helped inspire the novel. Agatha Christie first travelled on the Orient Express in the autumn of 1928. Just a few months later, in February 1929, an Orient Express train was trapped by a blizzard near Cherkeskoy, Turkey, remaining marooned for six days.[10]

Christie herself was involved in a similar incident in December 1931 while returning from a visit to her husband's archaeological dig at Nineveh. The Orient Express train she was on was stuck for twenty-four hours, due to rainfall, flooding and sections of the track being washed away. Her authorised biography quotes in full a letter to her husband detailing the event. The letter includes descriptions of some passengers on the train, who influenced the plot and characters of the book: in particular an American lady, Mrs. Hilton, who was the inspiration for Mrs. Hubbard[11].


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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

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TiggerBear
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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

[ Edited ]

 


becke_davis wrote:

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: One huge curve of an ending

 


 

by Lois Winston


I’ll be the first to admit I’m far from an Agatha Christie expert. However, as I think back over my journey from writing romance and women’s fiction to writing mysteries, I believe the seeds may have been planted years ago while watching MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

 

 



You see, I have this maddening habit of being able to figure out whodunit very early on in a mystery. Doesn’t matter if it’s a book, movie, or TV episode. My husband has made me promise not to say a word while we’re watching mysteries, even if he says something like, “He’s the killer, right?” I have to remind him that I’m not supposed to offer an opinion until the credits roll so that I don’t spoil the ending for him.

I once attended a screenwriting workshop where the instructor asked us to raise our hands if we’d figured out the ending to THE SIXTH SENSE before the dramatic conclusion of the movie. Mine was the only hand raised, and not only had I figure the ending out ahead of time, I’d figured it out in the first scene of the movie.

I think this knack for ferreting out whodunit is a trait inherited from my grandfather. Grandpa Ben was a police detective back in the heyday of gangsters and organized crime and was responsible for helping capture and lock up some very notorious felons. Who knows? If I’d been born a few years later, I might have gone into police work, but back when I was contemplating a career, such an option wasn’t even on my radar.

So, you might ask, what does all this have to do with Agatha Christie and my personal author journey from writing romance and women’s fiction to writing a mystery series? It all harkens back to that evening in 1974 when my husband and I went to the movies to see MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. To my utter shock and amazement, I couldn’t figure out whodunit! Not only couldn’t I figure out whodunit, but then Dame Agatha threw me one huge curve of an ending. I remember sitting there thinking, “Well done!” (For any of you who may never have read or seen MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, I won’t divulging the ending here.)

There’s an old saying, that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” That saying might be true for many things but not for well-written mysteries. If a mystery author fools me, that author has a fan for life. Even though Anastasia Pollack, my own amateur sleuth, is far more Stephanie Plum than Miss Marple, Dame Agatha will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first mystery author able to fool Ben Schaffer’s granddaughter. And for that, I thank her and hope my own mysteries will give readers the kind of wonderful surprise she gave me 36 years ago.

Today I’m also blogging over at Inkspot  http://www.midnightwriters.blogspot.com/, the Midnight Ink authors group blog. I talk about Dame Agatha’s 11 day disappearance in 1926 and the coincidence of another celebrity disappearance that year. I hope you’ll stop by.

 

InkSpot

Lois Winston is previously published in women’s fiction and romantic suspense. ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series comes out January 1st from Midnight Ink Books. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.


Yeah I did that too on seeing The Sixth Sense, knew instantly *SPOILERS*

 

 

"Oh he's dead" softly escaped my lips, much to my husband's disgust. He'd seen it earlier and had not got it. Now figuring out what the creature actually was in "Brotherhood of the Wolf" really cheesed him. I'm no longer allowed to give away movies anymore, though he occasionally will ask when I get that look on my face."You figured it out already, spill."

 

I too appreciate any novel where I don't figure out the plot by page 40.

 

 

Thank you for the article Ms. Winston. And kudos for coming back!

 

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Tigger - I think it becomes almost instinctive for those of us who are addicted to mysteries to try to solve them in books, movies and TV shows. (It's a lot harder in real life!)

 

I was watching a British mystery recently that had a REALLY twisted plot. I figured the whole thing out very early on, but it was such a warped story my husband wondered what the heck was going on in my head that I could figure it out!

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cathleenross
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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

This book sounds fabulous, Lois. Can't wait to get my hands on it. I love a good mystery with a modern (I don't think we're allowed to say chick lit anymore) voice. So terrific that you are going from strength to strength with your work.

Best

Cathleen Ross

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LoisWinston
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Yeah I did that too on seeing The Sixth Sense, knew instantly *SPOILERS*

 

 

"Oh he's dead" softly escaped my lips, much to my husband's disgust. He'd seen it earlier and had not got it. Now figuring out what the creature actually was in "Brotherhood of the Wolf" really cheesed him. I'm no longer allowed to give away movies anymore, though he occasionally will ask when I get that look on my face."You figured it out already, spill."

 

I too appreciate any novel where I don't figure out the plot by page 40.

 

 

Thank you for the article Ms. Winston. And kudos for coming back!

 


Thanks, TiggerBear! Looks like you and I must have a similar gene. I'm always amazed regarding The Sixth Sense. How many months were we bombarded with trailers of that little kid telling Bruce Willis, "I see dead people" before the movie came out? Then the movie opens with Willis getting shot. Duh!

 

Lois Winston
http://www.loiswinston.com
http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
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cathleenross wrote:

This book sounds fabulous, Lois. Can't wait to get my hands on it. I love a good mystery with a modern (I don't think we're allowed to say chick lit anymore) voice. So terrific that you are going from strength to strength with your work.

Best

Cathleen Ross


Thanks, Cathleen! How nice to see you here. I think Anastasia falls more into the realm of hen than chick, though. She's 42 years old with two teenage sons. I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out.

 

Lois Winston
http://www.loiswinston.com
http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
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Fricka
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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Thanks for joining us again, Lois, with your take on Dame Agatha and her ability to surprise even YOU with the ending of Murder on the Orient Express.  ( in our family, my dad is like  your grandfather  and you  in that-- he aways guesses who the murderer is, early in the story--very irritating to my mother!) I believe that Agatha outdid herself on that one. Most of her Poirot stories have the detective confronting a number of suspects in a drawing room at the end, going through all their motives, and then finally revealing which one of them really did it. She pretty much turned that ending inside out with MOTOE.

I also enjoyed my visit to Inkspot and your take on Agatha's disappearance. It's fun to guess what happened or why she disappeared, but unless she wrote about it, or told a friend or relative what really happened, the secret died with her.

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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cathleenross wrote:

This book sounds fabulous, Lois. Can't wait to get my hands on it. I love a good mystery with a modern (I don't think we're allowed to say chick lit anymore) voice. So terrific that you are going from strength to strength with your work.

Best

Cathleen Ross


Interesting you should mention that - I hear chick lit is making a comeback. I've always liked chick lit, although I lean toward contemporary romance. I want a happy ending!

 

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Re: LOIS WINSTON blogs about Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

 


LoisWinston wrote:

 


cathleenross wrote:

This book sounds fabulous, Lois. Can't wait to get my hands on it. I love a good mystery with a modern (I don't think we're allowed to say chick lit anymore) voice. So terrific that you are going from strength to strength with your work.

Best

Cathleen Ross


Thanks, Cathleen! How nice to see you here. I think Anastasia falls more into the realm of hen than chick, though. She's 42 years old with two teenage sons. I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out.

 


I love that heroines are getting older! They're still a lot younger than I am, but it's easier to stretch my imagination to 42 than to 21. I do read books with younger heroines, too, but it's nice to know those 21-year-old heroines could have a future and an interesting life in their 40s and 50s, too! And, dare I say, even older than that?

 

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Fricka wrote:

Thanks for joining us again, Lois, with your take on Dame Agatha and her ability to surprise even YOU with the ending of Murder on the Orient Express.  ( in our family, my dad is like  your grandfather  and you  in that-- he aways guesses who the murderer is, early in the story--very irritating to my mother!) I believe that Agatha outdid herself on that one. Most of her Poirot stories have the detective confronting a number of suspects in a drawing room at the end, going through all their motives, and then finally revealing which one of them really did it. She pretty much turned that ending inside out with MOTOE.

I also enjoyed my visit to Inkspot and your take on Agatha's disappearance. It's fun to guess what happened or why she disappeared, but unless she wrote about it, or told a friend or relative what really happened, the secret died with her.


This made me laugh, Fricka - in my family, we're so competitive, we all think we're the best at solving mysteries. Good thing we aren't gamblers or there would be money changing hands!