The story, or at least the ambience, of the world's most fabulous train is reflected accurately in some of its most famous and durable passengers: Ian Fleming; Eric Ambler, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene and Alfred Hitchcock. What they have in common is seen in the excellent dustjacket here: a string of pearls, a martini, some mixed currencies, a timetable, open passport and a snub-nosed revolver, the implication being that an adventuress and a secret agent just sacked out. The mystique of international shenanigans aboard the Orient Express, however, grew out of the 1924 novel The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars by Maurice Dekobra, a mauve thriller which sold a whopping 750,000 copies. No mere train, the original Express on its long journey from Paris to Istanbul was a royally appointed model of gracious living dedicated to superior sleeping arrangements and cuisine. Say with oysters and chilled champagne in a Nile-green boudoir, it's a sexy train! (Mmmmmmm...)...Altogether, a high - styled history in cut glass prose.