Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Murder On The Orient Express - Agatha Christie
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Murder on the Orient Express is by a detective novel written by Agatha Christie in 1934.

Summary Of Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie’s frequent protagonist, detective Hercule Poirot, travels on the Orient Express departing from the Middle East, during which a murder occurs on the train and an American passenger is stabbed to death.

Hercule Poirot, known as a private detective and retired Belgian police department officer, boards the Taurus Express heading to Istanbul. Inside the train are two other passengers, Mary Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot. Although they behave as strangers, Poirot’s observations suggest otherwise. Poirot becomes suspicious of the couple.

Upon the train’s arrival in Istanbul, Poirot settles into the Tokatlian Hotel. Upon his arrival, he receives a telegram urging him to return to London. While waiting at the hotel until the next train, Poirot encounters M. Bouc, the president of Wagon Lit, an old friend. M. Bouc arranges a berth for Poirot on the Orient Express. In the dining room at the Tokatlian Hotel, Poirot first seen Ratchett and Hector McQueen having dinner. Poirot knows Ratchett to be a despicable man and describes him to M. Bouc like an animal.

Poirot boards the Orient Express. Due to the unusual fullness of the train, he is forced to travel in a second-class cabin. Ratchett and Hector McQueen are also on the train. Ratchett approaches to the Poirot and asks if he will work for him. Ratchett claims to have received threatening letters and believes someone is trying to kill him. Poirot refused the case. M. Bouc has taken to the last first class cabin, but this changes to be moved to a separate carriage and gives Poirot his first-class berth.

While Poirot sleeps in first class on the first night, he observes strange events. In the early hours of the morning, a scream from the compartment next to Ratchett wakes Poirot. A Wagon Lit attendant knocks on Ratchett’s door, and a familiar voice from inside says, “Ce n’est rien. Je me suis trompé” (It’s nothing. I made a mistake). Poirot struggles to sleep due to the unusual silence on the train. Mrs. Hubbard rings her bell, claiming there’s a man in her room. Poirot rings for water and learns from the attendant that train is stuck in a snowdrift. Poirot hears a loud noise from the neighboring compartment.

The next morning while the train is still stopped, M. Bouc gives info to Poirot that Ratchett has been murdered and the murderer is still on the train. Poirot tells M. Bouc he willing to investigate the case. Poirot first examines Ratchett’s body and compartment. Ratchett has been stabbed twelve times. The window in Ratchett’s compartment has been left open, presumably to suggest the killer escaped through it, but there are no footprints outside in the snow. Inside the compartment, there is a handkerchief with the initial “H,” a pipe cleaner, a round match different from the matches Ratchett used, and a burnt piece of paper with the name “Armstrong” written on it.

The piece of paper with “Armstrong” written on it helps Poirot understand Ratchett’s true identity and why someone would want to kill him. Several years ago, a man named Cassetti kidnapped three-year-old Daisy Armstrong. Cassetti extorted a ransom from the wealthy Armstrong family, but still murdered the child. Poirot concludes that Ratchett is actually Cassetti.

Interviews begin with the Wagon Lit attendant, followed by Hector McQueen. Poirot knows McQueen is involved in the case because he is surprised that the Armstrong note, found in Ratchett’s compartment, has completely disappeared. Poirot speaks with Masterman and then Mrs. Hubbard. Mrs. Hubbard claims the killer is in her compartment.

All passengers provide Poirot with plausible alibis during their interviews, but several suspicious elements emerge: many passengers confess to seeing a woman in a red kimono in the corridor on the night of the murder, but no one admitting to owning a red kimono. Mrs. Hubbard claims Greta Ohlsson locked their communicating door. Hildegarde Schmidt collides with a stranger wearing a Wagon Lit coat.

Poirot inspects each passenger’s luggage. During the inspection, he notices several interesting things: the tag on Countess Andrenyi’s luggage is wet, Hildegarde Schmidt’s bag contains a Wagon Lit uniform, and finally, the red kimono is found in Poirot’s own luggage.

After the baggage inspection, Poirot reviews the facts with Dr. Constantine and M. Bouc and creates a list of questions. Considering the evidence and questions, Poirot sits and ponders the case. When he emerges from a somewhat trance-like state, Poirot has solved the case. Before fully explaining the solution, he summons several individuals and reveals their true identities.

Poirot discovers that Countess Andrenyi is actually Helena Goldenberg, the aunt of Daisy Armstrong. To conceal her identity, she had wetted the luggage tag and obscured her name. Additionally, Mary Debenham is Daisy’s nanny, Antonio Foscanelli is the Armstrong family’s chauffeur, Masterman is a valet, and Greta Ohlsson is Daisy Armstrong’s nurse. Princess Dragomiroff demands a handkerchief belonging to Poirot, which was found in Ratchett’s compartment.

Poirot gathers all passengers to the dining car and gives two possible solutions. The first solution is that a stranger boarded the train in Vincovci and killed Ratchett. The second solution is that all passengers on the Orient Express are involved in the murder. He argues that twelve people killed Ratchett to avenge Daisy Armstrong. When Mrs. Hubbard is revealed to be Linda Arden, she confesses that the second solution is correct. Poirot suggests that M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine tell the police the first solution to protect the family. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine agree to Poirot’s proposal.

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