The Company: The Story of a Murderer


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Poirot dismisses the conductor and tries to go back to sleep, only to be awakened again by a thump on his door. This time when Poirot gets up and looks out of his compartment, the passage is completely silent, and he sees nothing except the back of a woman in a scarlet kimono retreating down the passage in the distance. The next day he awakens to find that Ratchett is dead, having been stabbed twelve times in his sleep, M.

Bouc suggesting that Poirot take the case because it is so obviously his kind of case; nothing more is required than for him to sit, think, and take in the available evidence. However, the clues and circumstances are very mysterious. Some of the stab wounds are very deep, only three are lethal, and some are glancing blows. Furthermore, some of them appear to have been inflicted by a right-handed person and some by a left-handed person. Poirot finds several more clues in the victim's cabin and on board the train, including a linen handkerchief embroidered with the initial "H", a pipe cleaner, and a button from a conductor's uniform.

All of these clues suggest that the murderer or murderers were somewhat sloppy. However, each clue seemingly points to different suspects, which suggests that some of the clues were planted. By reconstructing parts of a burned letter, Poirot discovers that Mr. Ratchett was a notorious fugitive from the U. Five years earlier, Cassetti kidnapped three-year-old American heiress Daisy Armstrong.

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Though the Armstrong family paid a large ransom, Cassetti murdered the little girl and fled the country with the money. Daisy's mother Sonia, was pregnant when she heard of Daisy's death. The shock sent her into premature labor, and both she and the child died.

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Her husband, Colonel Armstrong, shot himself out of grief. Daisy's nurse-maid, Susanne, was suspected of complicity in the crime by the police, despite her protests. She threw herself out of a window and died, after which she was proved innocent. Although Casetti was caught, his resources allowed him to get himself acquitted on an unspecified technicality, although he still fled the country to escape further prosecution for the crime.

As the evidence mounts, it continues to point in wildly different directions and it appears that Poirot is being challenged by a mastermind. A critical piece of missing evidence — the scarlet kimono worn the night of the murder by an unknown woman — turns up in Poirot's own luggage. After meditating on the evidence, Poirot assembles the twelve suspects, M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine in the restaurant car.

He lays out two possible explanations of Ratchett's murder. The first explanation is that a stranger — some gangster enemy of Ratchett — boarded the train at Vinkovci, the last stop, murdered Ratchett for reasons unknown, and escaped unnoticed. The crime occurred an hour earlier than everyone thought because the victim and several others failed to note that the train had just crossed into a different time zone.

The other noises heard by Poirot on the coach that evening were unrelated to the murder. However, Dr.

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Constantine says that Poirot must surely be aware that this does not fully explain the circumstances of the case. Poirot's second explanation is rather more sensational: All of the suspects are guilty. Poirot's suspicions were first piqued by the fact that all the passengers on the train were of so many different nationalities and social classes, and that only in the "melting pot" of the States would a group of such different people form some connection with each other.

Poirot reveals that the twelve other passengers on the train were all connected to the Armstrong family in some way:. All these friends and relations had been gravely affected by Daisy's murder and outraged by Cassetti's subsequent escape. They took it into their own hands to serve as Cassetti's executioners, to avenge a crime the law was unable to punish. Each of the suspects stabbed Ratchett once so that no one could know who delivered the fatal blow.

Twelve of the conspirators participated to allow for a "twelve-person jury", with Count Andrenyi acting for his wife, as she — Daisy's aunt — would have been the most likely suspect. One extra berth was booked under a fictitious name — Harris — so that no one but the conspirators and the victim would be on board the coach, and this fictitious person would subsequently disappear and become the primary suspect in Ratchett's murder. The only person not involved in the plot would be M. Bouc, for whom the cabin next to Ratchett was already reserved.

The unexpected stoppage in the snowbank and Poirot's unexpected presence in Bouc's cabin caused complications to the conspirators that resulted in several crucial clues being left behind.

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Poirot summarizes that there was no other way the murder could have taken place, given the evidence. Several of the suspects have broken down in tears as he has revealed their connection to the Armstrong family, and Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mary Debenham are in love. She then appeals to Poirot, M. Bouc, and Dr. Constantine, not to turn them into the police.

Fully in sympathy with the Armstrong family, and feeling nothing but disgust for the victim, Cassetti, Bouc pronounces the first explanation as correct, and Poirot and Dr. Knock Knock Knock, the door was opened by a young Spanish girl, she must have been only 15, and she looked nervous, unsettled: I had seen the first suspect.

It was clear that I would need to establish a base to interview, review evidence etc. So I went to see the head butler Mr Milson he told me I could use the library. Walking away she rubbed and held a pendent close to her chest it appeared to be a cross. As I was strolling towards my designated base I heard a piercing gut retching, stomach turning scream it took me a mere 30 seconds to reach the source of the scream. Listen to all of this year's Top 50 shortlisted stories on the move.

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A fine, dark novel' - Patrick McGrath. Arabella Edge has worked as a journalist, and her short stories have appeared in a variety of literary publications. This is her first novel. Visit Seller's Storefront. Standard and expedited shipping options include shipping and handling costs. Books should arrive within business days for expedited shipping, and business days for standard shipping.

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