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Christie was probably inspired by the true story of the 'Lindbergh baby' kidnapping. Charles Lindbergh (he who flew across the Atlantic alone) had an infant child who was kidnapped and murdered even after the ransom had been paid.
The background to MotOE is also similar to the Lindbergh case. The victim is revealed to have been involved in a kidnap-murder case a few years back and got away with it. Was he punished for his crimes at last? Was he murdered for something totally unrelated? Or was he a victim of mistaken identity?
The usual suspects remind one of the typical English drawing room murder mysteries: an English colonel, a Russian princess, a count, a beautiful mysterious woman...they are all here. And Hercule Poirot has to discover who the murderer is and why, all by using his "little grey cells, mon ami."
The revelation in the final pages will surprise the reader yet it will not strain belief too much. MotOE has been accused of being incredulous and downright silly but I disagree. Those who feel that way probably forgot that they are reading a fiction novel. I am sure one will find it a lot of fun if only to find out who from among the varied cast did it. You'll be gobsmacked, I assure you :)
The solution will also show the reader why MotOE is famous in its uniqueness and has never been copied (no writer dares to).
Another Agatha Christie mystery that features an incredible revelation and giving an "I would never have guessed that" feeling to the reader is "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd". Both the Ackroyd and the Orient Express books should be in the Murder Mysteries Hall of Fame, if there is one.