Cosplay, Events / Parties

Murder on the Orient Express Mystery Dinner

My book club read Murder on the Orient Express, so I thought I’d surprise them with a murder mystery dinner for our meeting! Each person got to be a different character from the book and use props associated with that person. We discussed characters, motives, and interesting behaviors. Clues were scattered throughout the house for us to discover and reenact the mystery. I played the Detective Hercules Poirot to lead the discussion and solve the murder mystery. Scott even joined the fun as our murder victim!

Props / Food

The majority of the props were on the table with a few extras scattered throughout the house.

Here are most of the props I utilized (bolded items we found throughout the house in our search):

  • Toothpick – Italian
  • Pearls/rings
  • Toque (hat)
  • Magazine
  • Slippers
  • Gum
  • Cigarette in long holder
  • Cigar butt
  • Handbag
  • Aspirin
  • Matchbox, 2 burnt matches
  • Automatic pistol under pillow
  • Red kimono
  • False teeth in water
  • Charred fragment of paper with phrase “-member little Daisy Armstrong”
  • Square of cambric (handkerchief with initial H)
  • Pipe cleaner – for a pipe
  • Gold watch – dented and set to quarter past 1
  • Knife

Food Ideas (I only had a few of these):

  • Delicate cream cheese
  • Mineral water
  • Large glass of OJ
  • Chicken cooked without sauce
  • Boiled fish
  • Coffee
  • Cup of tea
  • Cognac


Here are some character pictures and notes I took about the characters I used to encourage conversation.

  1. Hercule Poirot- detective, compartment next to Ratchett
  2. Italian – big, swarthy, pick teeth, urgent business in Milan
  3. Englishwoman – expressionless, disapproving face, well-trained servant
  4. Big American – terrible clothes, loud suit, commercial traveler, chews gum
  5. Princess Dragoniroff, Russian, Ugly, rich, old lady – sits upright, large pearls, rings, sable coat “ugly as sin, but makes herself felt”
  6. Mary Debenham – governess, leaves 2 companions, strong character
  7. Swedish, Tall, middle-aged woman – plaid blouse, tweed skirt, yellow hair in large bun, glasses, long, mild amiable like a sheep, has a cold, gets cup of tea, missionary teacher, doesn’t speak much English
  8. Mrs. Hubbard – elderly American, stout, pleasant-faced, elderly woman, monotone, has daughter that she talks about a lot, western ideals, doesn’t like small change, her and husband on staff at American college in Smyrna; first journey to the East; may miss her boat
  9. Colonel Arbuthnot – didn’t want to sit by Mary, follows her when she leaves
  10. Middle-aged German lady’s maid – dress in black, expressionless 
  11. Hungarian husband – 30 yr old, handsome, big fair mustache, English clothes of loose tweed
  12. Hungarian wife of 30 yr old man – 20 year old mere girl, tight-fitting black coat and skirt, white satin blouse, small chic black toque at outrageous angle, beautiful foreign face, large brown eyes, jet-black hair, cigarette in a long holder
  13. MacQueen – Poirot fellow traveler, Ratchett’s secretary/courier, met him in Persia
  14. Masterman – British, Ratchett valet, keeps himself to himself, low opinion of Americans
  15. Mr. Samuel Edward Ratchett (Cassetti)- American, Poirot employer, false benevolence, small cruel eyes, rich, wants Poirot to take a case for large sum but he refuses, has an enemy, small automatic
  16. Dr. Constantine – Greek doctor, in coach with Bouc; thinks death occurred at 1 am
  17. M. Bouc – Poirot friend, conductor
  18. Wagon Lit conductor
  19. Chef de train – thinks it was a woman

Interesting Behavior/Facts

Here are some notes I took about interesting things to help guide the discussion for solving the mystery (CONTAINS SPOILERS):

  • Mary leaves, then Colonel follows her. American then sheep lady. Hungarian had already left. MacQueen leaves
  • Smokers: Poirot, Ratchett, Hungarian wife
  • Poirot: “if you will forgive me for being personal – I do not like your face, M. Ratchett”
  • Colonel talking to MacQueen and stop when see Poirot
  • Mrs. Hubbard presses magazine onto sheep lady “No take it my dear. I’ve got plenty other things to read.”
  • Mrs. Hubbard says “You know I’m dead scared of that man. There’s something wrong about that man” speaking of Ratchett.  “Hes next door to me and I don’t like it. I put my grips against the communicating door last night. I thought I heard him trying the handle. Do you know, I shouldn’t be surprised if that man turns out to be a murderer – one of those train robbers you read about”
  • Poirot wakes up to loud groan, almost a cry and a ring of a bell sounding sharply. Train was at standstill from running into snowdrift. 23 minutes to 1. Conductor knocked on Ratchetts door. 
  • Ratchett takes bath and someone shuffles by in bedroom slippers
  • Mrs. Hubbard continuously ringing bell
  • Woke again to something heavy had fallen with a thud against a door. Saw woman wrapped in scarlet kimono and conductor on his little seat entering figures on large sheets of paper
  • All gathered in restaurant car and distressed about snow – Bouc, Princess, Hungarians missing, Ratchett, his valet, German lady’s maid
  • And now a passenger lies dead in his berth – stabbed (Ratchett)
  • Ratchett window open – murderer escape route? but no footsteps in the snow
  • Wagon lit conductor and chef de train broke door chain to get into Ratchetts room. Door locked and chained on inside (suicide?)
  • Stabbed 10-15 places, 1-2 through hard belts of bone and muscle, haphazard, random, blindly
  • Stab wounds by left and right handed person
  • “The murderer is with us – on the train now…”
  • Hector MacQueen “so they got him after all”, don’t think his name was Ratchett, disliked and distrusted him, thought he was cruel and dangerous “You’ve nothing on me. Ratchet and I were on perfectly good terms”
  • Ratchett got threatening letters “We’re our to GET you Ratchett and WILL get you! Written by multiple people
  • Hatboxes of Swedish lady and lady’s maid
  • “-member little Daisy Armstrong” child kidnapped and killed
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