The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd: Chapter Summaries

Chapter Summaries of Chapters between 1 and 8.

  • Created by: michi_99x
  • Created on: 26-03-18 20:44


  • Readers are informed by the narrator (Dr James Sheppard) that a woman named, Mrs Ferrars has died.
  • This chapter gives a brief introduction to Caroline Sheppard, Dr Sheppard's sister.
  • She is known as the "town gossip" and suspects that Mrs Ferrars had poisoned her husband, Ashley Ferrars, who had died a year earlier.
  • Dr Sheppard and Caroline begin to discuss the ways she could have died: an accidental overdose on Veronal or killing herself deliberately due to the guilt of killing her husband.
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  • This chapter is the chapter that narrates the introduction of the quintessential setting of Kings Abbot and its inhabitants.
  • Mrs Ferrars and Mr Roger Ackroyd are the two most important houses in King's Abbot
  • Introduction of Roger Ackroyd: His wife, Ms Paton had died from being a dipsomaniac and drank herself to death, so Ackroyd had to raise her biological son, Ralph Paton.
  • After his wife's death, Mrs Ferrars and Roger Ackroyd were suspected to be romantically involved and many thought they were married.
  • Ackroyd was also involved with Miss Russell, his housekeeper.
  • Mrs Ackroyd (wife of Roger's brother, Cecil) and her daughter, Flora are also new arrivals in King's Abbot. Mrs Ackroyd was at an advantage with Roger being unmarried as she depended on Roger for money.
  • As Miss Russell receives a bottle of liniment (ointment to relieve pain) from Dr Sheppard, they have a coincidental, suspicious and odd conversation regarding the territory of poison. Sheppard concludes believing she has been reading detective stories. 
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  • Caroline informs Dr Sheppard that Ralph Paton is staying at the local inn and has been spending time with Flora Ackroyd.
  • Sheppard begins to wonder about the town's new arrival: Mr Porrott (Hercule Poirot)
  • When Poirot and Sheppard first meet, Poirot, says coming to King's Abbot is like a form of escapism from his old profession. 
  • Poirot professes that Hastings, his former detective sidekick, had moved away to Argentina.
  • Sheppard says on his part that he's made bad investments recently and has lost a lot of money lately. 
  • Poirot then compares Hastings to Dr Sheppard.
  • Caroline then confirms (by speaking to Ackroyd) that Ralph Paton and Flora are certainly engaged.
  • Caroline had overheard a conversation Ralph Paton with an unknown woman regarding the money that he could potentially gain if Ackroyd had to die.
  • Dr Sheppard sees Ralph Paton at Three Boars Inn, and Ralph discusses that Ackroyd has put him in a mess.
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  • As Sheppard arrives at Ackroyd's residence, the readers are introduced to two more characters: Parker (Ackroyd's butler) and Geoffrey Raymond (Ackroyd's secretary). 
  • Once Sheppard had been left alone in the study, he hears a sound, one that sounds like a window being shut. In the study, he runs into Miss Russell, Ackroyd's housekeeper.
  • He then notices that the windows are actually the long french ones and realises that the sound that he had heard couldn't have been of a window shutting but from the lid of a silver table.
  • We are also introduced to Major Hector Blunt who immediately speaks to Flora Ackroyd as soon as he enters. Roger Ackroyd and Dr Sheppard go together to the study and Ackroyd ask Parker to get him a tablet that is in Sheppard's black medical bag. 
  • They both discuss Mrs Ferrars' death and Ackroyd mentions that he believes Ashley Ferrars was poisoned and was informed by Mrs Ferrars that she did poison her husband before her death.
  • He explains that he had proposed to Mrs Ferrars, however, she refused because she felt guilty. 
  • Ackroyd states that Mrs Ferrars was threatened and blackmailed but would not name who it is. Ackroyd intends to find out who it is in order to cast revenge on that person.
  • Parker gives a letter from Mrs Ferrars (her suicidal note)
  • At 8:50pm, Sheppard sees a stranger with an unfamiliar voice who asks where Ackroyd's house,10:00pm, Sheppard receives a phone call- Roger has been murdered.
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  • When Dr Sheppard asks Parker about Roger being murdered, he thinks he is playing a practical joke
  • The door of Roger's room is locked but when they knock it down, Roger is sitting in the armchair with a knife sticking out of the back of his neck.
  • Parker brings Raymond and Blunt to Roger's room and Raymond thinks that there has been a robbery- Mrs' Ferrars' suicidal note had disappeared.
  • The village inspector comes and says that the murderer climbed through the window and stabbed Ackroyd in that position.
  • Raymond then recalls that he heard Ackroyd's voice around 9:30pm
  • Parker says that Roger saw Flora around 9:50pm, the inspector becomes suspicious of Parker, questioning why he had to return to Ackroyd's room. Parker then exclaims that there are two entrances to Ackroyd's room: the main hall or the window.
  • Flora has then been summoned and says that she had gone to say good night to Ackroyd at 9:50pm.
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  • Inspector Davis asks Dr Sheppard for a full description of the stranger 
  • He questions Dr Sheppard about Mrs Ferrars' blackmail, at this point, Sheppard realises that Parker must have been listening at the door which causes the Inspector to raise suspicion of Parker.
  • Davis realises that the murderer must've been Mrs Ferrars' blackmailer.
  • After analysing the dagger, Davis reveals that Ackroyd was certainly murdered by a right-handed man.
  • The knife was given by Blunt to Ackroyd from Tunis, which was confirmed both by Raymond and Blunt.
  • This knife was kept on the silver table, which alerts Sheppard about the sound he had heard earlier.
  • Parker is clearly a suspect as Davis asks if he leaves his "opinion of a small pocket diary".
  • They all have to give their fingerprints on a piece of card that Davis had marked accordingly.
  • Sheppard tells Caroline everything that had happened except the blackmailing of Mrs Ferrars.
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  • Finally, we are introduced to who Hercule Poirot (or Mr Porrott according to Sheppard) is by Flora Ackroyd and that he is indeed a famous detective.
  • Flora wants to ask Poirot for help with Roger Ackroyd's murder case in order to prove that Ralph is innocent.
  • They both enquire this to Poirot and Poirot intends to help Flora and will work for free.
  • Sheppard tells Poirot about going to the Three Boars Inn with the intention to meet Ralph in order to reveal that Roger had been murdered. Poirot says that he went there to search for Ralph for reassurance.
  • Ralph was seen close to Ackroyd's home around 9:30pm. Colonel Melrose adds that they had discovered Ralph's shoes from the Three Boars Inn.
  • Poirot asks Parker what has changed about the room and Parker says that the chair was moved from its current position.
  • Poirot explains that when the body was discovered, the door was locked and the window was open, which was either opened by Ackroyd or he opened it for someone else to get in, someone that he knew well- at 9:30pm.
  • Melrose informs everyone else that at 10:15pm Dr Sheppard had received the call from a phone at King's Abbot station and at 10:23pm the night mail leaves for Liverpool.
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  • Parker mentions that Roger had spoken to a salesman regarding a dictaphone.
  • Poirot says to Inspector Ralan that psychology is a key concept in an investigation.
  • Raglan's summary: Ackroyd was seen alive at 9:45pm and at 10:30pm his body was discovered to be about half an hour deceased. 
  • He then produces a list of everyone's alibis from 9:45pm to 10pm.
  • Blunt, Raymond and Mrs Ackroyd: The billiard room and all went to bed at 9:55pm
  • Flora Ackroyd: Was returning from Ackroyd's room to her own room at 9:50pm.
  • Miss Russell: Upstairs after 9:45pm
  • Parker: Miss Russell saw Parker go to the pantry during this time period.
  • Ralph Paton: Saw him walk towards the Ackroyd's house around 9:25pm.
  • Raglan acts confident and states that the prime suspect is Ralph Paton as his prints on his shoes are identical to the ones near the window. But Poirot proves him wrong as those kinds of shoes (rubber studs) are common.
  • Poirot discovers a starched piece of cambric and small quill in the summerhouse on the Fernley grounds.
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  • Near the pond, Sheppard and Poirot overhear Flora and Blunt having an intimate conversation. Flora mentions that she has been £20 000 left in Roger's will.  
  • As Poirot comes up to Blunt, he questions Blunt about the night of Ackroyd's murder. Blunt says that he heard Ackroyd voice around 9:30pm, whilst he was standing on the terrace. He claims that Ackroyd was speaking to Raymond but as Poirot gets suspicious he says he "assumes" it. 
  • Poirot then questions Flora about the dagger and then she said that it wasn't on the silver table when she went to check.
  • Poirot tells Sheppard about the shiny item in the pond and says that it was a ring with the inscription: "From R, March 13th."
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  • Back at Ackroyd's house, Mrs Ackroyd believes that Ralph Paton may have accidentally killed Roger.
  • Mr Hammond's tells Poirot and Sheppard about the will: Raymond: £500, Miss Russell: £1000, Mrs Ackroyd: £10 000, Flora: £ 20 000 and the rest to Ralph.
  • Sheppard questions Blunt about Mrs Ferrars (instruction by Poirot), but his reaction is not discomforting but he admits knowing Mrs Ferrars.
  • Sheppard interrogates Raymond. Raymond states that Roger had cashed a cheque for £100 and claims that Roger usually leaves the money in his "unlocked" desk drawer.
  • When they check the drawer, Raymond notices that £40 from the drawer is missing and mentions that one of the servants must've stolen it: Elsie Dale
  • One of the parlourmaids only just announced that she d be leaving.
  • Interrogating Ursula Bourne, she says that she was not close to Roger's desk last night and says that it was near Elsie's job.
  • Poirot wonders how long the dismissal was and Ursula says it was half an hour.
  • Poirot then notices that Ursula is the only one without an alibi and yet she seems to have no motive. From this, he believes that the blackmailer could potentially be a woman.
  • He then admits to Sheppard that everything points to Ralph being guilty.
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  • When Sheppard returns home, Caroline informs him that Poirot came over and questioned her about Roger's murder. 
  • Sheppard gets angry as he discovers that Caroline had told Poirot what Caroline had overheard in the woods. 
  • Poirot also mentions about Miss Russell and Sheppard remembers about the conversation he had with Miss Russell about poison.
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  • At the inquest, Dr Sheppard presents his evidence about the time and cause of Roger's death.
  • Inspector Raglan stresses that Ralph was not seen at King's Abbot train station and Sheppard claims that he might have made the call to throw the police off.
  • Then they discuss about the fingerprints on the knife, which they suspect could either be Ralph or the stranger that Dr Sheppard had claimed to see.
  • Poirot mentions the location of the prints on the knife seemed unnatural and not how someone would usually hold a knife. 
  • Poirot and Sheppard visit Fernly and ask Flora where Ralph really is, in order to prove Ralph's innocence.
  • At the end of the chapter, Poirot tells the people in the room: "Everyone of you in this room is concealing something from me."
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  • At dinner, Poirot wonders why Sheppard wasn't honest about Ralph and what Caroline overheard.
  • Sheppard wants to know of Poirot's suspicion of Miss Russell because of her questioning about poisons. 
  • Poirot gives Sheppard a lecture on his methods.
  • The stranger that Sheppard had seen was also seen at the Three Boars and claimed to have had an American accent.
  • Poirot then produces the quill he found in the summerhouse and stresses that Sheppard should know the use of the "scrap of starched cambric" but Sheppard admits that he doesn't know.
  • Poirot begins to become confused on how Ursula's dismissal was 30 minutes long.
  • Dr Sheppard's notes: At 9:30, Roger was heard talking to someone about money, and through the footprints, Ralph must have entered through the window. But the murderer couldn't have been Ralph as Ackroyd was still alive at 9:50pm. He believes that Ralph must've left the window open to allow the attacker to enter. But then Poirot questions about the chair and the missing  £40, which Sheppard believes that Roger must've given to Ralph.
  • Poirot asks what Sheppard believes are the motives of the murder, he replies inheritance from the money. Poirot says other motives are potential like concealment of the blackmailer's identity by stealing the letter and trying to get out of a "financial scrape".
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  • Mrs Ackroyd tells Sheppard that Flora should have discussed with her regarding employing Poirot in Ackroyd's murder.
  • She continues to explain that she had an excessive amount of bill to pay that Roger didn't know about.
  • Mrs Ackroyd then says she found the will and was caught by Ursula.
  • Mrs Ackroyd went through the silver table because of the valuable items that Roger possessed so could fetch a high price from those possessions. 
  • At this point, Miss Russell walks in, which sparks Sheppard's memory.
  • Sheppard then questions Ursula Bourne about how she wanted to speak to Roger, instead of the other way round and she admits this. She then asks Sheppard about Ralph Paton.
  • Sheppard confirms that Roger couldn't have been murdered before 9:45pm.
  • Caroline then tells Sheppard that Poirot had asked Sheppard to find out if Ralph's boots were either black or brown. Caroline then finds out that they were actually black according to her friend's maid who works around Three Boars.
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  • Raymond was looking for Poirot that Caroline suggests Sheppard should tell Poirot and should also inform his regarding the colour of Ralph's boots.
  • Poirot and Sheppard share an agreement that Miss Russell came through the room from the outside because she'd possibly gone to meet someone. 
  • Raymond tells Poirot that he was in debt before Roger's will was released, but he is fine now. 
  • Poirot might be suspicious because Raymond doesn't have an alibi.
  • He believes that everyone has a motive except Blunt but thinks that he is hiding something.
  • Sheppard and Poirot go and test Parker's innocence and pretend to do a reenactment of the night of the murder.
  • Poirot finally says he has learned something that he's been curious about for a while.
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  • Caroline, Sheppard, Miss Gannett and Colonel Carter are playing Mah Jong
  • Miss Gannett saw Flora with another man but doesn't name him.
  • Her maid knows Elsie and that Elsie mentioned that money was stolen from Fernly and said that Ursula was responsible.
  • Caroline believes that Ralph is hiding out in Cranchester and went there on foot.
  • Sheppard mentions about the ring that Poirot found in the pond.
  • They suspect it could be Roger was secretly married to Mrs Ferrars, Roger married to Miss Russell or Caroline suggests that Raymond was married to Flora.
  • Caroline states that "Flora doesn't care a penny piece for Ralph Paton, and never has."
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  • Asked by Poirot, Sheppard questions Parker. Parker reveals that his former master was Major Ellerby, who, according to Poirot, was a drug addict and a potential murderer.
  • Parker believes that Ackroyd was the one who had been blackmailed instead of Mrs Ferrars.
  • The money that Parker got from blackmailing Ellerby was invested
  • As Caroline brings about her theories of the killer of Ackroyd, Poirot says that the killer has a trace of weakness and was a person that was desperate to maintain their reputation, therefore Ackroyd had to be their victim.
  • Sheppard receives a call that the stranger that Sheppard had met the night of the murder was a man called Charles Kent from Liverpool.
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  • Raglan, Sheppard and Poirot travel to Liverpool in order to identify Kent as the stranger that Sheppard had met the night of the murder.
  • Raglan reveals to Poirot that the fingerprints on the dagger were indeed Ackroyd's own.
  • Kent says that he was nowhere near Fernly at that time, but then Poirot produces the goose quill, claiming that Kent had dropped it.
  • Kent reveals that he couldn't have possibly killed Ackroyd as he left around 9:25 and was at the local saloon at 9:45.
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  • The barmaid at the Three Boars had seen that Kent had a lot of money, suggesting that the money could have been stolen from the drawer.
  • Poirot tells Raglan not to release Kent because he believes that Kent has something to do with Roger's murder.
  • Raglan, Poirot and Sheppard question Flora, who is with Blunt and she admits stealing the money from Ackroyd's drawer.
  • As she storms out, Blunt covers for her, informing Raglan that Ackroyd actually gave him £40.
  • Flora only agreed to marry Ralph in order please Ackroyd and never actually loved him
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  • Raglan says that the murder could have happened as early as 9:30
  • Poirot informs Sheppard that there is a false article regarding Ralph's arrest, which he will use to his advantage.
  • Miss Russell arrives and admits that Kent met her at around 8:50. She also confesses that Kent is her son. 
  • Charles had a bad childhood: taking drugs and begging Miss Russell for money. 
  • Miss Russell: 9:25- she had given Kent the money.
  • Sheppard says to Poirot that Miss Russell's testimony says that Ralph Paton is the murderer.
  • Poirot reveals how he knew Russell's and Kent's connection: Russell's talk about drugs to Sheppard and the goose quill that he had found in the summerhouse.
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  • Caroline tells Sheppard that she had seen a man, presumably a Home Office expert, visiting Poirot's home. 
  • Poirot asks Sheppard to invite Blunt, Raymond, Flora and Mrs Ackroyd to Poirot's home for a "little reunion".
  • As Sheppard arrives at Fernly, he mentions to Mrs Ackroyd that Flora has been engaged to Blunt and Mrs Ackroyd speaks about her suspicion of Flora and the stolen money.
  • Caroline tells Sheppard and Poirot that Ursula Bourne is waiting to see Poirot and Poirot addresses her as "Ursula Paton".
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  • Ursula narrates hers and Ralph's romance: fell in love whilst she was a parlourmaid.
  • Because of Ralph's debt, Roger had forced him to marry Flora, considering it as a business deal.
  • Ursula Bourne: Arrived around 9:33 and left to return to the house at 9:45.
  • Poirot says she could have killed Roger, which is what Ralph believes, that is why he fled from King's Abbot.
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  • Sheppard states that he has written a manuscript based on the murder of Roger Ackroyd and says that he purposefully put himself "in the background". (presence of unreliable narrator)
  • Doesn't allow Caroline to attend the reunion, but invites Ursula.
  • Poirot states that at the "little reunion" he will finally reveal who the murderer is.
  • At Poirot's home (reunion), Poirot gives a walkthrough of the investigation: the footprints, the quill and the starched cambric (coming from a maid's apron)
  • He first considered that the person was American [the idea of the goose quill and the American accented man that Sheppard spoke to that night]. BIG ISSUE: TIMINGS!
  • Ursula couldn't have been in the summerhouse before 9:30 and the stranger showed up at 9.
  • Poirot could not have been in the study at 9:30 as he promised to meet Ursula in the summerhouse.
  • Blunt and Raymond both presume that Roger was reading a letter aloud, at this point Poirot reminds them of the dictaphone salesman who appeared on Wednesday.
  • Blunt also saw Ursula on the night of the murder.
  • Raymond states that Ralph still seems to be the prime suspect, at this point, Ralph appears in the doorway.
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  • Suspicious of Sheppard: Sheppard went to speak to Ralph that night, urging him to hide so he would be instantly accused of murder.
  • However, Ralph believed that Ursula had killed Roger.
  • Sheppard realises that the Home Expert man that Caroline had seen was indeed Ralph.
  • Ralph Paton: Left the summerhouse at 9:45
  • Poirot tells everyone that he will tell Raglan who the murderer is unless they choose to confess right away and repeats this (persistence)
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  • Poirot's suspicion of Sheppard: Sheppard's phone call and what the motive of the call would be. 
  • The murder was actually discovered on the night, not the next morning.
  • Poirot mentions how the chair had blocked the window and the person who was at the window couldn't see anything on the table.
  • The object on the table was a dictaphone, indicating that the voice that Raymond had heard was a recording voice of Ackroyd's.
  • Shoeprint's considerations: 1) Ralph Paton's? 2) Made by somebody else 3) Done too incriminate Ralph. 
  • 3) - believed that Ralph had two types of shoes and the killer had stolen one pair at the Three Boars.
  • Killer had also stolen Flora's dagger and had been mechanically minded.
  • The killer is Dr Sheppard.
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  • Sheppard's statement was the only proof to suggest that the window was locked. 
  • Walkthrough of murder: left the study with Ralph's shoes and played the dictaphone at 9:30.
  • Poirot suggests his motive: done it for protection as he was the one who blackmailed Mrs Ferrars, having gone into debt due to a bad investment.
  • The call from King's Abbot station was Sheppard's patient, whom Sheppard asked to call him. 
  • Poirot says for Sheppard to find an easier way out- an overdose.
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  • We see the sinister side of Sheppard as he states his pride for misleading the readers through the use of timings, the dictaphone and the position of the chair.
  • He contemplates his way out for Caroline's sake, possibly Veronal, stating "poetic justice", as that is the same way that Mrs Ferrars died.
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