Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10) Murder on the Orient Express question


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Did they get arrested or not?
Julie Julie Feb 24, 2013 02:28AM
I know that Hercule Poirot in the book gave the decision to the train head and doctor which story to tell the police and it seemed like they were going to let the 12 get away with murder. That just seems so against what Poirot would want. I would think that would color his opinion of his friend (the train guy) in any future conversations. So do you think they got away with murder?



I believe it is abundantly clear, that Poirot and company decided not to prosecute, and even though two wrongs ordinarily do not make a right, I should say, rightfully so.


Nobody was charged and I was disappointed.

In fact Poirot himself, it feels, didn't want to charge anybody when he found out it was the Armstrong family all along. Remember when he says "don't be so quick to dismiss my first theory"? He was suggesting that while the second one may be the true one, perhaps his first one was a better outcome (murderer came on and left the train).

It's a unique book,. this one. I finished surprised, but disappointed that nobody went to jail. I was reading last few pages imagining that somebody would come out and take the blame for doing the killing blow or if Poirot would deduct that out himself, etc.


I do think that it's against Poirot's normal judgement, but then again, this case was something extraordinary and the usual rules didn't really apply to it - at least I think of it that way and I assume he did too.
In the end, I don't think they were arrested, because even though they killed someone, they weren't completely "guilty", in this situation of course.


I think Christie leaves it up to the individual reader. She builds a black and white case in which the victim is entirely despicable, and the perpetrators are all bonded and motivated by their unselfish love of an innocent child. In doing so she equates vigilante justice with divine retribution, then asks--is it okay to kill if we all agree to hate the same person? It's an interesting conundrum that she, as a mystery writer, would have faced often. This time, she asked us to explore the mystery within ourselves: Will I cling to my principles or will I allow an emotional story to sway me into becoming an accessory after the fact?
Suddenly the black and white case takes on many shades of gray.


He did let the murderers get away with it. I was disappointed but not surprised. I think Poirot shouldn't take the law into his own hands and decide who gets arrested and who doesn't- then that just allows vigilantism and crimes and allows for some to be judged and not others. I think it's better when he withholds info about innocent characters that they'd rather not have out there. Hiding an entire murder would make me too uncomfortable in hiring him to solve a case because I know he is biased.


Consider two matters:
1. The business of the Detective is to obtain knowledge.
2. The detective story is as much about power -- for the Detective, the right use of knowledge -- as it is about detection. The Detective's standing as a moral authority which lies behind his invocation as someone to be called on to repair the torn fabric of society does not rest, therefor, on his allegiance to law but to justice. The English Classic formula assumes that law and justice are functionally the same. When we came to believe otherwise, the English Classic formula was doomed. There is no ambiguity in the ending as regards the facts, only as regards the rightness of Poirot's decision. The recent film of the story with David Suchet attempts to resolved the moral question with an explicit scene portraying Poirot's spiritual crisis which I found quite grating, but I went back to the novel and found some justification for it. Unfortunately I don't have a text handy. I never do, it seems, when one is wanted.


Okay, I have two major questions that I am left with:

1. I couldn't tell whether or not it was coincidental that Poirot happened to be on this train. I feel like maybe I need to go back and read the last chapter to see if it's clear. It seems absurd that his presence there at the last minute would be coincidental. The most famous European detective shows up as the 13th passenger in a train full of people ready to commit an extremely well-planned murder? If it was coincidental, don't you think they all would've thought twice before going through with the plan?

2. Along the same lines - did they leave the charred note with "Armstrong" behind intentionally? It seems like the most important word on the note - you'd want to make pretty darn sure that it burnt and disappeared completely. But they left just enough evidence for someone to make the connection to the Armstrong family.

It led me to think that 1. they wanted Poirot on the train for some reason, and they somehow arranged for him to be, and 2. they left the portion of the note un-burnt for him to figure things out.


He let it go up to the official investigators on the train. They all allowed the people to escape because they served out justice since it wasn't done the first time legally. I loved the ending. It was different than her usual.


Why did Pairot let those 12 people go? Why he did not report the truth to the police?


Poirot decideds to let all go and hints sarcasm with telling murderers to find peace with this ( which they'll ofcourse not get it)


nah they didn't. which really surprised me to be honest.


A couple of points being overlooked: ALL 12 participated in the murder/stabbing, which indicates:

a) they all wanted a stab at him (pun intended), indicating hatred as the primary motive. Not that I can blame them, but still, outside of the bounds of justice when justice is secondary.
AND/OR
b) they all wanted to stab him to provide alibis for each other and/or to make the crime more difficult to detect/prosecute.

It is pretty obvious that they did things in such a way that they expected they would escape detection, and to cover their own butts. This man had committed many other crimes, and no doubt if captured, would be convicted. But they didn't want that. They wanted "justice" at THEIR hands, which is personal and an act of revenge instead of a judicial act.

Re: Poirot: I like the Suchet film version, where he delivers a "false clue" (the button) to the police, then walks off, rubbing the Rosary, nearly in tears, asking God to forgive him. More than likely he felt it was a righteous battle, but one too hard to fight, with a cost of too many (more) lives.

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Connie I just watched that version and was so impressed with Poirot's albeit private expression of emotion--a rare occurrence for him, or at least what we as ...more
Nov 25, 2018 10:57AM

From one point of view that could be wrong: the main idea is that when the justice system let people like Ratchett or whatever his name was get away with things like that it's as if they give a permission to the victims' love ones to take justice in their own hand and when the justice system is affective no such crimes will be committed


Even though Poirot looks for justice, and is a "man of the law" this case was a bit different. The amount of innocents that were injured due to one mans actions far outweighed his need to bring to light what happened aboard the Orient Express. I don't think that they were arrested, because I think the Poirot felt that they were all justified in creating their own jury and death sentence for the man. An eye for an eye, if you will. And he had already gotten away with the murder of the little girl for far too long.


Much like Holmes, Poirot is always more concerned with "playing the game for the game's sake" than serving a higher sphere of law and order. Check Final Curtain for a crash course on that. Regarding this book, I don't think any evidence points out to the culprits being charged or prosecuted.


Cristina (last edited Nov 02, 2016 06:23PM ) Nov 02, 2016 05:45PM   0 votes
Not matter how evil the victim is, or what kind of evil deeds he/she committed.
Murder is murder.
I think is how Poirot will see it, that may be why I like him so much.
Revenge is no justice, and really there is no excuse for taking the law into one own hands.

Although in the novel Poirot decided to let them go.


Aside from this line of posting, anyone notice in the first five minutes of the movie, the production assistant`s reflection in the body-length mirror in the mansion attic?


No, they were not arrested. They got away with murder. In the novel, Poirot decided to hand the police the false conclusion about a Mafia member boarding the train to kill the victim. It's odd that Christie would paint Rachetti as a member of the Mafia. She obviously got her idea for the story from the Lindbergh kidnapping. Yet, Charles Lindbergh's son was never kidnapped by the Mafia. Nor was the Mafia into committing the kidnapping children of the wealthy. Especially if they wanted to avoid the scrutiny of the Feds. It's also obvious that this story is advocating vigilantism, especially since the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby had not been found when she wrote this story around 1933/34.


Then again, 12 people decided he should die. Poirot probably felt that it was as good as any Jury.


Firstly I never expected that all the passengers involved in the kill and everyone escape the police because Poirot uncertain with his decision.


I didn't understand certain points about the ending of this book- wonder if anyone could help explain.

1. Why did Poirot put forward two possible solutions.

2. Why did he let the others decide.

3. Why did he let all the other murderers get away- only arresting Mrs Hubbard when everyone played a part in it, apart from the Countess of course.

4. Why would they lie to the police when they arrived rather than tell them the truth!!!!

They may seem stupid questions but I like to tie up all the loose ends, so to speak, at the end of the book to satisfy myself!!


Pairot let these 12 people off because it was his disregard for American and Ratchett was treated very badly when he asked for protection. To get any police force involved would have brought to light Pairot Rudeness.


I just finished this book this morning. This was my first Agatha Christie book and I wasn't disappointed. While this is not my favorite genre for books, I highly enjoyed it. The only issue I had was with the ending. For some reason the ending left me feeling empty. It just didn't feel right that he didn't turn them in. He is a detective, this is exactly his job. He should not have taken the law into his own hands. Despite this, I will pick up another Christie book in the near future.


The 12 are not prosecuted because Poirot provided options in which one obviously is the truth and the other one as false. It's like asking for the sake of having an answer, because either one of the two, it will not prosecute anyone. The truth (in which 12 conspired/murdered), does not hold any water because all evidences are based from deduction and all evidences presented by Poirot are circumstantial. Let's say that Poirot chose the 2nd option (12 are guilty), will the courts accept his deductions as evidence against the 12 accused? Well, we differ in laws, but do courts in general accept deductions?

Let us just say that Poirot wants justice for the dead man, he does not have any concrete evidence that indicts the 12 for the crime. His good deed to bring the dead man to justice will just backfire against his favor, considering that most of the 'murderers' are prominent and 'willing to kill' individuals. Practicality over righteousness prevailed.


This is my favorite Agatha Christie book! I know, with her it's always a surprise as to "who did it". But this one blew me away! I love the way Poirot spins it all together at the end. It is classic Christie! And his little grey cells are working overtime! I have read it several times.


I think Poirot thought they were almost up to par with him coming up with a totally ingenious plan using the "little grey cells" and he really had sympathy for their cause. this guy had done more than 1 wrong if you think about it. lol I think he got what he deserved and it was a good job of it.


I feel, though he felt for the victim and the people connected, he did in fact turn them in. Solely because I feel for a great seeker of the truth and justice that has no choice but to turn them in. Without law man will take it in their hand and become vigilantes. He holds justice too high to let his personal feelings to get in the way.


Adam (last edited Jul 27, 2018 05:09AM ) Jul 27, 2018 05:09AM   0 votes
I was very disapointed by the ending. Poirot is a detective; his duty is to the truth. It is not up to him ,or to any one man, to discern justice in a murder case. He should not presume to have the right to do this. Once the truth is revealed a collective decision can be made via a collective judicial system, which is set up by society as a whole, about what course of action should be followed. A can't imagine that anyone would disagree that the original murder of the little girl is wrong. On the other hand any one individual may view the revenge killing of the murderer as wrong or as just, depending on the moral axiomatics adopted by that individual. Poirot's presumption that he alone has the right to make this moral judgement is itself immoral. I found this decision to be arrogant, and largely at odds with his rationality and his adherence to reason.

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David L Gurnee Then you'll really hate the final episode, Curtain, and the decision Poirot made.
Jul 27, 2018 07:20AM

Stephen (last edited Jul 17, 2014 09:32PM ) Jul 17, 2014 09:27PM   0 votes
This is not the only time Poirot lets folks get away with crimes. In The Chocolate Box, he lets the culprit avoid arrest and even takes the rap for "not" solving the case.

Also in The Double Clue he allows the woman that he thinks is guilty to leave the country.


Wow, I love this conversation. I really enjoyed reading this book. I think I must have seen an old movie of this because as I was reading, I knew who did but I did not remember the ending. I was still surprised at the end when he did not pursue prosecution. That poor child was abducted and killed by Rachetti. It is interesting that there are 12 'killers', much like a jury of 12.


Julie wrote: "I know that Hercule Poirot in the book gave the decision to the train head and doctor which story to tell the police and it seemed like they were going to let the 12 get away with murder. That just..."

I'm positive they did. That's why he stated that needs to work on 'easing his conscience'. That was NOT justice, that was plain revenge.


I came away from the book concluding that there would be no charges.


I think it's pretty clear that Poirot provided his two explanations and "withdrew from the case" leaving it to the director and doctor to submit the 'persons unknown' theory of the crime.


NO!!! Poirot NEVER said he absolutely knew for sure what happened. During the "Big Reveal" he repeatedly states that he can only guess at what might have happened. Oh, he knows the truth, absolutely. But, good grief, as Schwarzenegger explains to his wife in "True Lies", he kills people because "they are bad." In Orient Express we have a truly horrible dead person.


I don't think anyone was prosecuted. Even if they'd wanted to prosecute (which I don't think they did), problem is that no-one knows who struck the blow that killed Ratchett, so there's no way anyone can be charged with murder.

Under English law I think they could possibly be charged with conspiracy to murder, or accessory to murder, but there's little or no actual evidence to put before a court, only Poirot's deductions. But the crime didn't take place in England; they'd have to go by the law of whatever country the crime did take place in. Do they even know what country the train was in when Ratchett died?

Pursuing it would open up a whole can of worms, especially as some of the people involved were quite prominent.


I think Poirot will let them go. Although I can hardly accept this (for me whoever commits crime must be punished), but out of sympathy I will do the same decision as Poirot. That little girl died a terrible death.


No. They did not. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, Poirot felt that justice had been served. You must look at this situation not with the eyeglass of the present, but of the time it was written. Two years prior to this publication, the baby of Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped, and - despite paying the ransom - the baby was actually dead. If you look at the details of that incident, and the one in the book (the book's having more dead people), one can imagine the cold calculus of Poirot surmising that justice was served.


I think Pairot decided to phone it in on this one


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