From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express


by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

The Crime

  • Poirot is having a hard time sleeping, and he does hear Ratchett moving around next door. He also hears people ringing for the conductor.
  • Poirot hears Mrs. Hubbard ring for the conductor and some kind of long fuss ensues. Poirot then rings for a bottle of mineral water.
  • The conductor mentions that he is exasperated with Mrs. Hubbard. She claims a man was in her room. The conductor told her that was impossible. That's what the fuss was about.
  • The conductor mentions that the train is stuck in a snowdrift, and that's why it's not moving.
  • Poirot drops off to sleep, but he wakes up again when he hears a thud against the door. He gets up and looks in the hallway. He sees nothing but a woman in a red kimono walking away, and the conductor at the other end of the car.
  • When Poirot wakes up again, it's morning (phew), but the train is still stuck (bummer). He goes to the dining car, where everybody's complaining. People are panicking.
  • Actually, Mary Debenham isn't panicking. She's definitely not as anxious as she was back on the other train.
  • The crowd continues to fuss. They conclude that they are in Yugo-Slavia.
  • Poirot tells Mary that she is the only patient one. She is detached. She tells Poirot that there is among them a "stronger" character than her (1.5.65).
  • Um, what? Mary comes to herself and says she means the old lady, the Princess. Ah. Sure.
  • Later in the morning, Poirot is summoned by M. Bouc to come to a large empty train compartment.
  • M. Bouc says they are in need of Poirot's assistance. Why? Because a passenger has been stabbed to death in his compartment! (Dun dun dun…)
  • The passenger? Ratchett, of course. M. Bouc would like Poirot to help, since they are at a standstill and there are no police are on board the train.
  • M. Bouc introduces Poirot to Dr. Constantine, the Greek doctor who was in a different train car last night with M. Bouc. The doctor says the death definitely occurred sometime between midnight and 2 a.m., maybe around 1 a.m.
  • Ratchett was last seen alive at twenty to one when he spoke to conductor, as Poirot confirms.
  • The window of his compartment was left open, though they think that's a red herring (a misleading clue) since there were no traces in the snow.
  • Michel, the conductor, discovered the body around 11 a.m. this morning when he went to see if Mr. Ratchett would take lunch.
  • We learn that the body was stabbed in many different places.
  • The chef de train says that "only a woman would stab like that" (1.5.123). Nice.
  • Dr. Constantine says that some blows were random, but others not so much. Some were powerful, others weak.
  • Poirot tells the men that there was a threat against Ratchett's life. Could it have been a gangster? There's an unseemly American on the train in No. 16, but it couldn't have been him. The conductor would have seen him – or so he thinks.
  • M. Bouc urges Poirot to take the case and use his "little grey cells of the mind" to help solve it (1.5.141).
  • Poirot accepts and asks for a plan of the Istanbul-Calais coach (all others were locked), a passenger list, passports, and tickets of all involved.
  • They realize the murderer must still be on the train with them.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...