Published in 1934, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a classic example of the locked room mystery—a trope of suspense fiction in which a crime is committed under seemingly impossible conditions. Here, as in all of Christie’s novels, the crime is murder, the victim an unknown passenger named Mr. Ratchett, stabbed twelve times, and the scene of the crime the claustrophobic sleeping berths of the Orient Express.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, one of the passengers happens to be Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective bestowed with astounding intellect and even more astounding mustaches. Even more fortunately, the train has been caught in a snowstorm and will be unable to continue to its destination for some time. The murderer is effectively trapped. Poirot quickly sets his “little gray cells” to work and begins the investigation, which includes extensive interviews of the other passengers. These passengers are a strange mix of nationalities and social standing: a Russian princess, a Hungarian count and countess, a missionary from Sweden, businessmen from Italy and America, an American tourist, a British Colonel and a British valet, as well as a secretary, a governess, a German maid, and the French train conductor. They seem to have no connection, either with each other or the murdered man. But Poirot does not jump to conclusions. He quickly discovers Mr. Ratchett’s true identity and hypothesizes that at least one person on the train may have had good reason to want him dead.

The clues are as eclectic as the passengers and include a red kimono, a burned letter, a pipe cleaner, and a monogrammed handkerchief. Some of these are red herrings, false clues, which the murderer uses to lead Poirot astray. Of course, the Belgian detective discovers the culprit and, in classic style, gathers all the suspects together to reveal the murderer’s identity.

One of Christie’s most popular novels, Murder on the Orient Express referenced a real-life mystery: the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s child in 1932. As a testament to its continued popularity, the story has been adapted into a movie, television miniseries, comic book, and video game. Unfortunately, the real Orient Express did not share the same popularity; in 2009 the train route stopped operation.

Murder on the Orient Express Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Hercule Poirot finds himself the uninvited guest at the scene of an elaborately planned murder on wheels. The Belgian detective is making his way from Istanbul, Turkey, to London, and he is looking forward to a leisurely trip and a chance to clear his head, a chance to rest his “little grey cells,” as Poirot refers to his brain.

A good friend of Poirot, M. Bouc, is an administrator with Wagon Lit, the train company that operates the Orient Express. Poirot prefers to travel first class. Because it is winter, off season for tourists, the detective is assured by Bouc that finding a first-class cabin on the train will be easy. To their surprise, the car leaving Istanbul, the Calais Coach, is nearly full. There is, however, one no-show, and Poirot finds himself sharing a compartment with Hector MacQueen, the private secretary to a wealthy American, Mr. Ratchett.

Poirot is introduced by Bouc to Dr. Constantine, a Greek physician, traveling in the next car. On the first night of the journey, as they sit in the dining car, Bouc points out to Poirot the variety of travelers in the dining car: the rich and the poor. Some are English, some American, some French, some Italian, some Russian, some Hungarian—an array of passengers from differing socioeconomic backgrounds and different cultures. Where else in the world, Bouc wonders aloud, could one find such an assortment of people beneath one roof? Yes, Poirot thinks to himself, perhaps only in America.

The first night passes peacefully, and Bouc moves Poirot from his shared cabin with MacQueen to a private one next door to Ratchett. During the second night of the trip, Poirot has trouble sleeping, awakened by voices, service bells summoning conductor Pierre Michel, and thumping on his cabin door. At about 1:15 a.m., Poirot sticks his head out of his cabin and sees a woman wearing a kimono with a dragon print walking down the corridor. He hears his neighbor, Ratchett, tell the conductor in perfect French that nothing is wrong and that he had not meant to ring his service bell. The train is stopped, too, as an avalanche of snow covers the tracks.

Ratchett, Poirot has determined, is an evil man. The evil shows on his face, and Poirot has taken an instant dislike in him. Earlier in the evening, Poirot had been approached by Ratchett and was offered a job—to keep Ratchett alive. Ratchett has been receiving hate mail and otherwise threatening letters. Poirot turns down the offer of employment.

The next day, Ratchett is discovered dead in his cabin, and there are many clues. A pipe cleaner...

(The entire section is 1071 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Synopsis

Agatha Christie's seminal mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express was first published as a complete work in 1934. The material originally appeared as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post from July through September of 1933.

The novel's main character, Hercule Poirot, is a Belgian private detective called to London to solve a case. He boards a train, the titular Orient Express, and secures a sleeping car through the help of his friend M. Bouc. While on the train, Poirot meets a passenger named Ratchett who asks for Poirot’s help: Ratchett believes his own life is in danger. Poirot later discovers that Rachett has in fact been murdered on the Orient.

Poirot visits Ratchett’s sleeping car and finds a clue, a burned piece of paper with the word “Armstrong” written on it. Poirot thinks the paper may link Ratchett's murder to another crime that happened many years ago in the United States. That case involved a man named Cassetti. It is believed that Cassetti kidnapped and murdered a baby, which led to the murder of the baby’s father, mother, and nursery maid. The killings are collectively referred to as the "Armstrong Case."

Poirot deduces that Ratchett was really Cassetti. After Poirot finds a pipe cleaner and a button from a conductor’s uniform, Poirot begins to suspect Colonel Arbuthnot and Pierre Michel as the murderers of Rachett. He interviews thirteen main suspects and traces the hidden links among the passengers. As the novel progresses, Poirot reveals the true identities of several characters. He ultimately proposes two possible solutions for the Ratchett murder.

Agatha Christie was one of the most innovative, best-selling writers of detective fiction, and her Murder on the Orient Express remains a classic of the genre. Readers enjoy its quick pace as well as the motives and actions of the characters. In 1974, the novel was made into a successful movie directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, and Sean Connery.

Murder on the Orient Express Chapter Summaries

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

An Important Passenger on the Taurus Express

It is Sunday at five o’clock on a winter morning in Syria. The Taurus Express train waits at the railway station in Aleppo. Near the steps to the sleeping car is a uniformed French lieutenant; he is in a conversation with a small man who is muffled so completely that only the tip of his nose and the two points of his curled-up mustache are visible. The temperature is frigid, and Lieutenant Dubose has been assigned to escort the “distinguished stranger” to the train.

Dubose does not know much about this assignment, though there have been rumors and his commanding general’s temper has grown increasing worse in recent days. Then this Belgian...

(The entire section is 797 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary

The Tokatlian Hotel

At the Tokatlian Hotel, Hercule Poirot requests a room with a bath and asks the concierge for any letters; he hands Poirot three letters (expected) and a telegram (unexpected). The telegram says that the development Poirot predicted in the Kassner case has come unexpectedly and requests that he return immediately. Though he grumbles a bit, Poirot asks the concierge to book him a first-class sleeping berth to London on the train leaving at one o’clock in the morning.

It is nearly eight, so Poirot cancels his room and goes to the restaurant. As he is ordering, someone puts a hand on his shoulder from behind and says this is an unexpected pleasure. Poirot is pleased to see...

(The entire section is 759 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

Poirot Refuses a Case

Hercule Poirot ate breakfast alone and spent the morning reviewing his notes for the case which has called him back to London. Now he is here for lunch and accepts Bouc’s invitation to join him at his elite table; as director, Bouc is served first and gets the best food.

Bouc wishes he were a writer so he could capture the scene in the dining car. They are surrounded by people of all ages, nationalities, and classes. For three days, they are all brought together in one place and cannot escape from one another. After three days, each one will go his own way and perhaps never see any of the others again. Poirot wonders what might happen if there were an accident, but...

(The entire section is 754 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary

A Cry in the Night

At 8:45 that evening, the Simplon Orient Express arrives in Belgrade and will not leave again for thirty minutes. Poirot leaves the train but does not stay long on the platform because it is snowing. As he returns to his berth, Poirot meets the conductor who tells him his suitcases have been moved to compartment number one. Bouc has moved into the coach from Athens which has just been connected to the train.

Poirot protests the change, but Bouc insists this is for the best. Poirot is going all the way to England and should stay in the coach to Calais; Bouc is happier in the quieter coach, which is empty except for a little Greek doctor. He tells Poirot that more snow is...

(The entire section is 704 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

The Crime

Hercule Poirot cannot sleep after all the commotion and because the train has stopped moving. He hears Ratchett moving around next door, and someone, perhaps in slippers, shuffles down the corridor. It is only one fifteen and he goes to the door to ask the conductor for some water.

Poirot notices that someone else is impatiently ringing the bell and suddenly he hears a rush of footsteps and a knock on a nearby door. Poirot hears the apologetic conductor talking to Mrs. Hubbard, though she is doing nearly all the talking. When they finish, Poirot pushes his bell and the conductor arrives immediately. He tells Poirot that the American woman insists that she woke up to find a man in...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary

A Woman

The passports and tickets arrive, and the conductor is dismissed. The officer goes to clear the dining car so that Hercule Poirot can conduct his interviews there.

The first person he interviews is Hector MacQueen; the young man is confused by the commotion and commands, all in French, but finally asks if something has happened. When Poirot tells him the shocking news that Ratchett is dead, MacQueen shows no surprise and says, “So they got him after all.” He assumes that Ratchett has been murdered, something that surprises Poirot.

Now MacQueen hesitates, asking who exactly Poirot is; Poirot introduces himself as a detective representing the train line. (MacQueen has...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary

The Body

Hercule Poirot follows Doctor Constantine to Ratchett’s compartment and the conductor unlocks it for them. Nothing inside has been disturbed since the body was discovered. It is frigid because the window is still open. Constantine has not moved Ratchett’s body, and there are no fingerprints on the window sill; someone wiped it clean. Finally Poirot examines the body and sees that the physician is puzzled. Constantine sees now that two of the deep knife wounds were delivered after Ratchett had already been dead for some time. In addition, at least one of the blows was administered by someone who is left-handed while the others were made by a right-handed attacker.

It seems that...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

The Armstrong Kidnapping Case

Hercule Poirot and Doctor Constantine find Bouc, the director of the train line; after they eat, Bouc asks Poirot what he has discovered. The inspector explains that Ratchett is actually Cassetti, the American man who is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of a young girl, Daisy Armstrong. The girl’s father, Colonel Armstrong, was an English noble and scion of a Wall Street millionaire. Armstrong married the daughter of the most famous dramatic actress, and the couple had one child, Daisy, whom they adored. She was kidnapped when she was three and an enormous ransom was demanded.

After the Armstrongs paid the two hundred thousand dollars in ransom,...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary

The Evidence of the Wagon Lit Conductor

Poirot and Bouc sit next to one another at a table in the dining car; Constantine sits just across the aisle. The first person Poirot interviews is the Wagon Lit conductor, Pierre Michel, who has been employed here for more than fifteen years and lives near Calais. Though Michel is respectable, he is “not, perhaps, remarkable for brains.” The conductor is nervous and hopes that neither Poirot nor Bouc will hold him responsible for the murder in his coach. Poirot assuages the man’s fears and Michel begins answering the inspector’s questions.

Ratchett went to bed shortly after dinner the past two nights, and both his valet and his secretary...

(The entire section is 502 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

The Evidence of the Secretary

The second person Poirot interviews is Hector MacQueen, Ratchett’s secretary. Poirot reveals Ratchet’s true identity as Cassetti, the infamous leader of the kidnapping ring which was responsible for Daisy Armstrong’s death. MacQueen is shocked and appalled, claiming he would not have worked for the man if he had known the truth. MacQueen is particularly incensed, as his father was the district attorney who tried the Armstrong case. He believes that Ratchett got what he deserved for committing such a heinous crime against such good people.

Poirot notes that perhaps MacQueen is incensed and passionate enough to have killed Ratchett himself; but since...

(The entire section is 497 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

The Evidence of the Valet

The next person to be interviewed by Inspector Poirot is the Ratchett’s valet, a pale, unexpressive Englishman named Edward Henry Masterman. He is thirty-nine years old and lives in Clerkenwell, England. The valet was shocked to learn of his employer’s death, of course. Masterman last saw Ratchett at about nine o’clock last night when he performed his usual duties: hung up Ratchett’s clothes, put his dental plate to soak in a glass of water, and saw that Ratchett was set for the night.

These are his usual nightly tasks, but last night Ratchett did seem rather upset over a letter he had been reading. Ratchett demanded to know if Masterman had put the letter...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

The Evidence of the American Lady

Mrs. Hubbard is so breathlessly excited when she arrives for her interview that she can hardly speak a complete sentence. Once she is settled, she announces that the murderer was in her compartment last night. Just after she had fallen asleep, Hubbard suddenly woke up and knew there was a man in her room. For a moment she was too scared to move or scream; then she began ringing the bell for the conductor. Though she pressed it many times, no one arrived. The train was stopped and silent, and for a moment Hubbard thought perhaps everyone on the train had been murdered; however, she kept pressing the bell until she heard the conductor arrive.

She turned on the...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary

The Evidence of the Swedish Lady

Mr. Bouc, director of the Wagon Lit train line, examines the button from a company uniform which Mrs. Hubbard left with him, Poirot, and Doctor Constantine during her interview. It is a significant piece of evidence and he wonders if the conductor for that apartment, Pierre Michel, could have been involved in the murder.

Greta Ohlsson is the next to be interviewed; she peers shortsightedly at the men through her glasses. The Swedish woman does not seem at all agitated, and the interview is conducted in French. She tells them she is the matron of a missionary school near Stamboul as well as a certified nurse. Ohlsson is aware that there has been a murder and...

(The entire section is 420 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary

The Evidence of the Russian Princess

The conductor, Pierre Michel, is summoned to the dining car to be questioned about losing a button from his uniform in the American woman’s compartment. However, Michel claims he is not missing a button and is genuinely confused. His employer, Bouc, is certain this piece of evidence confirms the guilt of whoever was in Mrs. Hubbard’s compartment last night, but Michel confirms that there was no intruder. Bouc assures the conductor that the assassin came through Hubbard’s compartment and dropped this button.

Michel is distraught and protests his innocence. He begs the men to confirm his alibi with his two fellow conductors; because he was talking to...

(The entire section is 516 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary

The Evidence of the Count and Countess Andrenyi

The Count and Countess Andrenyi are the next to be interviewed, but only the Count appears. He is a tall, handsome, and elegantly dressed man. The Count understands that every passenger must be questioned, but he knows that he and his wife will be no help as they were both asleep last night and heard nothing unusual.

Although the Count knows it was Ratchett who was murdered, he is not aware of Ratchett’s true identity; however, he does not react to the revelation that Ratchett was actually the infamous Cassetti. The Count lived in Washington for a year and is not sure if he ever knew anyone named Armstrong, but he quickly asks Poirot what he...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

The Evidence of Colonel Arbuthnot

After establishing Colonel Arbuthnot’s age, home address, and military standing, Poirot asks if the Colonel is on leave. He is, and he chose to travel overland for personal reasons. From India, he stopped for one night to see Ur of the Chaldees and for three days in Baghdad to visit an old friend. Poirot wonders if he has met an English lady, Miss Debenham, who also came from Baghdad. The Colonel says they met on a railway convoy car from Kirkuk to Nissibin.

Poirot becomes persuasive, asking Arbuthnot what he thinks of Debenham since they are the only two English passengers on the train; although it is unusual to ask, Poirot explains the murderer may have...

(The entire section is 440 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary

The Evidence of Mr. Hardman

Mr. Hardman, the big, flamboyant American who shared a dinner table with the valet and the Italian, is the last of the first-class passengers to be interviewed. His clothing is loud and he is in good humor when he arrives at the dining car.

Poirot reads the man’s passport: Cyrus Bethman Hardman, United States citizen, forty-one years old, traveling typewriter ribbon salesman. Hardman is traveling from Stamboul to Paris for business.

When Poirot asks about the man’s activities last night, Hardman demands to know the credentials of his three inquisitors. Poirot introduces Bouc, Constantine, and himself; Hardman has heard of Poirot and therefore feels...

(The entire section is 479 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 10 Summary

The Evidence of the Italian

Bouc, director of the train line, is thrilled that the Italian is finally coming to the dining car for his interview as this is the man Bouc thinks is the murderer. Antonio Foscarelli speaks fluent French and is a naturalized American citizen.

When Poirot asks about his job selling Ford automobiles, the Italian gushes everything about his business, his views on the world, his journey, and his income. Foscarelli has been in America intermittently for the past ten years; he never met Ratchett, although he certainly knows the type: respectable in every outward way but “underneath it is all wrong.”

The Italian is ready to go off on a tangent at every...

(The entire section is 407 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 11 Summary

The Evidence of Miss Debenham

Mary Hermione Debenham is a rather formidable woman and very neatly and properly dressed. She writes her address for Poirot as requested, and her writing is clear and legible. Debenham has little to tell her inquisitors, for she slept all night and heard nothing unusual.

Poirot asks her if she is distressed that a murder was committed on the train. Debenham is so surprised at the unexpected question that he repeats it. Upon reflection, Debenham says she is not distressed, although it was certainly an “unpleasant thing to have happen.”

Poirot is surprised that she does not show much emotion when he asks her impression of the murdered man. Debenham...

(The entire section is 453 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary

The Evidence of the German Lady’s-Maid

Poirot explains to Bouc that he was trying to find some flaw in Miss Debenham’s calmness. Both Bouc and Doctor Constantine are shocked that Poirot might suspect such a charming, unemotional woman of committing such a crime of passion.

The inspector begs the men to rid themselves of the notion that this was an “unpremeditated and sudden crime.” He suspects Debenham because of something he overheard earlier in his journey, which he now shares with them. If what he heard is true, both Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot committed the crime; however, they do not provide one another an alibi. Debenham’s alibi is provided by a Swedish woman she does not...

(The entire section is 497 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary

Summary of the Passengers’ Evidence

Bouc, Poirot, and Doctor Constantine are now alone. Bouc does not understand how the enemy of whom Ratchett was so afraid could have been on the train but since vanished.

Poirot reviews the facts. Ratchett was stabbed in twelve places and died last night. The murder either was committed at one fifteen (as much of the testimony suggests) or before or after that time but made to look like it occurred at one fifteen. If it did happen at one fifteen, the murderer is still on the train.

Hardman is the passenger who offered them the description of the potential assailant. Poirot has deduced that Hardman can be believed, despite his pretending to be...

(The entire section is 420 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 14 Summary

The Evidence of the Weapon

Doctor Constantine quickly gets Mrs. Hubbard settled after her faint and then joins Bouc and Poirot in the Stamboul carriage. Every passenger on the train, it seems, has gathered outside of Hubbard’s door. The harassed conductor, Pierre Michel, is holding them back; he is relieved to see the men arrive and lets them into the room.

The conductor tells the men that Hubbard had called him, screaming as if she too had been murdered. When Michel arrived, she left screeching like a madwoman. A large toiletry bag is hanging from the door handle; below it is a cheap Oriental dagger with an embossed hilt. The blade has patches of what looks like rust on it.


(The entire section is 364 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary

The Evidence of the Passengers’ Luggage

The men search Mr. Hardman’s luggage. The only surprising thing in his bags is an excessive number of liquor bottles, which he intends to smuggle into the United States despite the Prohibition laws.

In Colonel Arbuthnot’s neatly packed luggage, Poirot finds a package of pipe cleaners, the same kind found at the murder scene. Poirot still believes such a murder is out of character for Arbuthnot.

Bouc deferentially explains the need to search her luggage to Princess Dragomiroff, who graciously allows them to ask her maid for the keys. Schmidt is not chic or modern but she is loyal, a characteristic Dragomiroff values beyond measure....

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

Which of Them?

Bouc, director of the train line, and Doctor Constantine are worried and depressed when Poirot joins them in the dining car; they do not see how this complicated case can ever be solved. Poirot is intrigued because he must solve this murder without any of his normal methods; for him it will be an “exercise of the brain.”

Although Bouc and Constantine saw nothing helpful in the search of the passengers’ luggage, Poirot believes several significant things were revealed. First, Macqueen mentioned that Ratchett only speaks English, yet when the conductor knocked on Ratchett’s door, a voice speaking French told him it was a mistake, using a phrase only a true...

(The entire section is 315 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

Ten Questions

On the paper Poirot gives Bouc are written ten questions still requiring an answer in the Ratchett murder investigation: to whom does the handkerchief belong, who dropped the pipe cleaner, who wore the scarlet kimono, who masqueraded as a Wagon Lit conductor, why does the watch say one fifteen, was the murder committed at one fifteen, was the murder committed earlier than one fifteen, was it committed later than one fifteen, was Ratchett actually stabbed by two assailants, and what else might explain the dead man’s unusual wounds.

Bouc narrows the owner of the handkerchief down to three potential people—Hubbard, Debenham, and Schmidt—but both he and Constantine eliminate...

(The entire section is 491 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

Certain Suggestive Points

None of the men speaks as they just sit and think for fifteen minutes. Bouc starts thinking about the murder investigation, but soon his mind turns to his train line’s reputation in the midst of such an unfortunate incident.

Constantine’s thoughts center on Poirot, and he wonders if the inspector is a genius or an eccentric. The murder seems impossible to solve. Then he turns his thoughts to America and perhaps traveling there someday.

Poirot uses his time truly to think, and suddenly he has a potential explanation that includes all the facts as he knows them. It is an odd theory, however, and he is not certain he is correct. To be sure, he must...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary

The Grease Spot on the Hungarian Passport

Poirot, Bouc, and Constantine share a table at dinner; the rest of the passengers are subdued. Even Hubbard, the most loquacious and dramatic woman, is oddly quiet.

Poirot quickly asks the chief attendant to serve the Andrenyis last so they will be the last to leave the dining car. When the couple is finally walking out the door, Poirot hurries to follow them and claims the Countess dropped her handkerchief. The young woman looks at it but says the inspector must be mistaken. Poirot insists it must belong to her since her name is Helena Goldenberg and she is the daughter of Linda Arden and younger sister to Sonia Armstrong.

For a moment...

(The entire section is 460 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary

The Christian Name of Princess Dragomiroff

Bouc commends Poirot on his reasoning and is now certain the Countess committed the murder; however, Bouc is hopeful that the courts will be lenient with her because of the extenuating circumstances. Poirot believes the Andrenyis’ story. Princess Dragomiroff enters the dining car and approaches the three men, all of who immediately stand.

She speaks directly to Poirot and says he has a handkerchief belonging to her. Bouc reminds her that her name is Natalia, which does not begin with the letter H; she disdainfully tells him her handkerchiefs are always monogrammed with Russian letters, and “H is N in Russian.” Bouc is taken aback by this piece...

(The entire section is 388 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary

A Second Interview With Colonel Arbuthnot

Colonel Arbuthnot makes it clear that he is annoyed at being summoned again to the dining car. Poirot asks if the pipe cleaner he has in his hand belongs to him. The Colonel assumes it probably does after Poirot tells him that he is the only passenger on the train who smokes a pipe. Poirot says the pipe cleaner was found at the murder scene, and the Colonel raises his eyebrows.

Arbuthnot repeats that he never entered Ratchett’s compartment or even spoke to him—and he did not murder him. Poirot casually says he can think of at least eleven other reasons the pipe cleaner was in Ratchett’s room; what Poirot really wants to ask him about is the...

(The entire section is 317 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary

The Identity of Mary Debenham

Mary Debenham arrives at the dining car in an aura of beautiful defiance. Her eyes move to Colonel Arbuthnot for just a moment before she addresses Poirot. He tells her he wants to know why she lied to him this morning, why she did not tell him she was living with the Armstrongs at the time of the kidnapping or that she had been to America. Since Poirot has discovered the truth, Debenham admits the truth.

Her explanation for lying is simple: she still has to earn her living. A governess must maintain an impeccable reputation, and no Englishwoman would ever hire someone whose name, and perhaps whose photograph, had been published in connection to a scandal such...

(The entire section is 332 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Further Surprising Revelations

Bouc insists nothing would surprise him now, not even if everyone on the train proves to be connected to the Armstrong household. Poirot asks if Bouc would like to see if his favorite suspect, the Italian, has such a connection. Poirot is going to make a rather extraordinary guess.

Antonio Foscarelli is wary as he enters the dining car and claims he has nothing more to add to the investigation. Poirot says Foscarelli has undoubtedly been investigated before because he was the chauffeur for the Armstrongs at the time of the kidnapping.

Suddenly deflated, the Italian admits he lied for business reasons and because he does not trust the police....

(The entire section is 494 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary

Poirot Propounds Two Solutions

Every passenger is assembled with expectancy. Poirot gives two possible solutions to the crime. His original theory was that someone in this carriage committed the murder; however, now he believes that Ratchett’s murderer boarded the train at Belgrade or Vincovci though an open door. He was given a Wagon Lit uniform and pass-key and immediately stabbed Ratchett, who was drugged with his sleeping medication, and then escaped through Mrs. Hubbard’s compartment. He stuffed his uniform into the first available suitcase he could find before departing through the same door he entered. Everyone gasps.

Poirot gives reasonable answers to their questions and everyone...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

Murder on the Orient Express Bibliography

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Arnold, Jane. “Detecting Social History: Jews in the Works of Agatha Christie.” Jewish Social Studies 49, nos. 3/4 (Summer/Autumn, 1987): 275-282. Christie’s novels are not character driven, and they are often criticized for their lack of character development and for often reverting to stereotypes. Christie wrote works of entertainment and discouraged scholarly study of her work, yet her writing is nonetheless open to study. Twenty-three Jewish characters appear in her stories, including Murder on the Orient Express.

Bunson, Matthew. The Complete Christie: An Agatha Christie Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books, 2001. A comprehensive reference volume...

(The entire section is 472 words.)