header logo
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Summary


Here you will find a The Murder of Roger Ackroyd summary (Agatha Christie's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

P.S.: As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page. But the summaries are totally free!

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Summary Overview

Dr. James Sheppard, a country doctor residing with his spinster sibling Caroline in a quaint village outside of London, finds himself entangled in a web of enigma, suicide, and murder over the span of nine days. His medical practice leads him to the home of his deceased patient, Mrs. Ferrars, a prosperous widow who had lost her husband a year prior to alcoholism. Dr. Sheppard had overseen Mr. Ferrars's demise as well, determining the cause to be severe gastritis due to excessive drinking. Now, he is charged with identifying Mrs. Ferrars's cause of death. Caroline, a woman of insatiable curiosity and a fertile imagination, speculates that Mrs. Ferrars's demise was not accidental, but a suicide born out of remorse for poisoning her husband. At the time of her demise, Mrs. Ferrars was courting Roger Ackroyd, a fellow patient of Dr. Sheppard and a wealthy widower whom the town expected her to wed. Ackroyd had lost his wife to alcoholism two decades prior and had since adopted her son from a previous marriage, Ralph Paton. The affluent Ackroyd household includes his late brother's widow and her daughter, along with a staff comprising a secretary, housekeeper, butler, parlormaid, and housemaid. Ackroyd, troubled by an issue, invites Dr. Sheppard to his home for a private discussion. He discloses to the doctor that he had been engaged to Mrs. Ferrars for three months and the day before her death, she confessed to having poisoned her husband and being blackmailed. She intended to disclose the blackmailer’s identity within a day. A letter in Mrs. Ferrars's handwriting arrives, but Ackroyd discontinues reading it aloud before the blackmailer's identity is revealed. Dr. Sheppard leaves, only to rush back later that night upon receiving a call informing him of Ackroyd's murder. Upon arrival, however, Parker, the butler, denies making the call and knows nothing of a murder. They break down the study door, where Ackroyd is found dead, with a dagger lodged in his throat and Mrs. Ferrars's letter missing. The police discover footprints leading into and out of the room through an open window. All residents of the house are interrogated, but no one saw anything suspicious. Ralph, last seen at a local inn, is nowhere to be found, and a pair of his muddy boots matching the footprints is discovered. The following day, Flora, the daughter of Ackroyd's late brother's widow, requests Dr. Sheppard to solicit their famous detective neighbor's assistance in clearing Ralph's name, to whom she is engaged. The detective agrees and identifies crucial aspects of the crime scene. As he assembles the puzzle and uncovers truths, the killer's identity is revealed to be none other than Dr. Sheppard, who is also the blackmailer. With no way out, Dr. Sheppard concludes his manuscript with a confession and ends his life in the same way as Mrs. Ferrars.

chapter 1

Dr. James Sheppard returns from a distress call at King’s Paddock, Mrs. Ferrars's residence, highly unsettled. He determines that Mrs. Ferrars died in the early hours of September 17 due to an overdose of a sedative named veronal. His sister, Caroline, already informed about the death from the milkman, who got the news from Mrs. Ferrars’s domestic help, Annie, suspects that Mrs. Ferrars took her own life out of guilt for poisoning her husband, Ashley Ferrars, a year before. Dr. Sheppard attempts to curb his sister's conjectures, despite having similar doubts.

chapter 2

Dr. Sheppard acquaints us with the inhabitants of King's Abbot, including the prosperous bachelor Roger Ackroyd. Ackroyd resides at Fernly Park with his deceased brother's wife, Mrs. Ackroyd, and her daughter, Flora. Roger had once married a widow, Paton, and raised her son, Ralph, after she died from alcohol abuse four years into their marriage. The Ferrars moved to King's Paddock residence only briefly before the infamous alcoholic Ashley Ferrars met his end. Caroline insists that Mrs. Ferrars was the culprit, but Dr. Sheppard, who officially attributed the death to acute gastritis, discreetly hints at signs of arsenic poisoning. A romance had blossomed between Mrs. Ferrars and Roger Ackroyd, despite the persistent presence of Roger's housekeeper, Miss Russell, for the past half-decade. Dr. Sheppard grapples with the decision on Mrs. Ferrars’s cause of death—whether it was suicide or homicide. He remembers her last interaction with Ralph Paton. Roger tells Dr. Sheppard about a pressing matter to discuss, clarifying it's unrelated to Ralph, who he believes is in the capital. A local gossipmonger, Miss Gannett, claims to have evidence of an engagement between Roger and Mrs. Ferrars. Meanwhile, Miss Russell seeks advice from Dr. Sheppard regarding unseen poisons and treatments for cocaine addiction.

chapter 3

Caroline informs Dr. Sheppard during lunch on September 17 that Ralph Paton arrived in King’s Abbot on the previous day and is staying at a local inn, the Three Boars, instead of with his stepfather, Roger Ackroyd. Afterward, Dr. Sheppard encounters their neighbor, Mr. Porrott, who apologizes for his impulsive action of throwing a marrow squash over the fence. Mr. Porrott shares his longstanding friendship with Roger, a relationship tied to his previous undisclosed job. He also mentions Roger's recent update about the engagement of Ralph and Flora Ackroyd. Upon returning from the city, Caroline shares her encounter with Roger, where she revealed Ralph's whereabouts. She also mentions hearing a conversation between Ralph and an unidentified woman regarding his inheritance concern, that Roger might disinherit him. Dr. Sheppard subsequently visits Ralph at the Three Boars, where Ralph admits facing a predicament that only he can address.

chapter 4

Dr. Sheppard reaches Fernly Park for dinner with Roger at half past seven on the evening of the 17th of September. The butler, Parker, greets him and Roger's secretary, Geoffrey Raymond, directs him to the drawing room. Upon opening the door, he hears a noise, and inside, he finds a flustered Miss Russell, who seems annoyed about not being informed of his visit. He speculates that the sound originated from someone shutting a curio case. Dr. Sheppard chats with Roger's niece Flora, who proudly displays her engagement ring from Ralph. They spend some time examining the relics within the curio case. Flora's mother, Mrs. Ackroyd, requests Dr. Sheppard to inquire about Roger's plans for Flora's inheritance. When Major Hector Blunt, Roger's friend and a big-game hunter, arrives, they all gather for dinner. Post-dinner, Roger invites Dr. Sheppard to his study for a confidential talk, asking him to secure the window. Roger reveals his secret three-month engagement to Mrs. Ferrars, who confessed to him the day before her death that she had murdered her spouse, Ashley, and was being blackmailed. She had promised to disclose the blackmailer's identity within a day. Parker interrupts them with a blue envelope in Mrs. Ferrars's handwriting. Roger begins to read her suicide note aloud, stopping just before she names the blackmailer. As Dr. Sheppard takes his leave at ten minutes to nine, he bumps into Parker near the study door. His departure coincides with the nine o'clock chime from the village clock, and he narrowly avoids colliding with a mysterious cloaked figure asking directions to Fernly Park. The stranger's voice sounds vaguely familiar. By quarter past ten that night, Dr. Sheppard gets a call from someone claiming to be Parker, announcing Roger's murder.

chapter 5

When Dr. Sheppard rushes to Fernly Park, Parker claims he didn't call him. As they proceed to inspect Roger's room, they find it locked from within. Upon breaking the door, Roger's dead body, with a knife in his neck, greets them. Sheppard directs Parker to alert the police, Raymond, and Blunt, who are at the billiards. Roger's mail caught Raymond's attention but the blue envelope is missing. Inspector Davis evaluates the crime scene upon arrival. Parker asserts that no one entered after supper, and the previously locked window is now wide open with footprints around it. Raymond mentions overhearing a conversation Roger had about a cash demand. Parker then shares his encounter with Flora near Roger's study as he was delivering his regular night drink. Davis instructs Constable Jones to inspect the footprints and queries Flora in the billiards room. She confirms the timeline, mentioning she was the last person to talk to Roger, who requested not to be disturbed. Post this, Blunt informs Mrs. Ackroyd and Flora of Roger’s demise. Davis secures Roger’s private wing.

chapter 6

In an interview by Inspector Davis, the attendees and servants share their knowledge. Dr. Sheppard recounts the encounter with the unknown individual who sought directions, and both agree the man might have altered his voice. Parker brings up the topic of extortion. Dr. Sheppard shares Mrs. Ferrars's admission of murder and her suicide letter that named the extortionist with Inspector Davis; he highlights the blue envelope containing the note is misplaced. To maintain fingerprints, Inspector Davis extracts the dagger from the deceased by holding the blade. He observes that the knife's lethal edge could have been used by a child to attack Roger. Following a medical examination, Dr. Sheppard deduces the killer was a right-handed person who attacked from behind, resulting in immediate death. The dagger is identified by Blunt as a present he gave Roger from Tunis. Raymond discloses that the dagger usually resides in the curio case in the drawing room. Dr. Sheppard recalls hearing the case lid shut before seeing Miss Russell, who then admits to shutting the lid that she found open. However, no one can confidently confirm the dagger's presence in the case earlier. Later, Dr. Sheppard shares the specifics of the day with Caroline at home, who rejects Inspector Davis's suspicion of Parker being the murderer as senseless.

chapter 7

Flora pays a visit to Caroline and Dr. Sheppard the morning after Roger Ackroyd's murder. She has caught wind of Inspector Raglan's suspicion about Ralph. She enlists Dr. Sheppard's help to clear Ralph's name, revealing their neighbor, Mr. Porrott, to be the renowned detective, Hercule Poirot. Flora's knowledge of Dr. Sheppard's visit to the Three Boars the previous night baffles Caroline and Dr. Sheppard. Despite Dr. Sheppard's objections, Flora persists in involving Poirot. Flora and Dr. Sheppard approach Poirot, who hears the details of the murder from Dr. Sheppard. He questions Dr. Sheppard about his visit to the Three Boars, to which Dr. Sheppard explains that he was trying to inform Ralph about Roger's death, but he was not there. Poirot agrees to investigate the case, despite being retired. At the police station, only Inspector Davis welcomes Poirot while the rest seem less than thrilled. Poirot, however, insists that he doesn't need any publicity. The team heads to Fernly Park, the crime scene. Poirot takes note of the footprints at the window that match Ralph's shoes previously collected by Inspector Raglan from the Three Boars inn. He is intrigued by the open window, which Dr. Sheppard claims to have shut, and the strange placement of a grandfather chair that Parker pointed out. Poirot confides in Dr. Sheppard, stating that everyone seems to be hiding something in such cases. Colonel Melrose reveals that the phone call to Dr. Sheppard, luring him to Fernly Park, was made from a public phone at the train station.

chapter 8

The investigation at the crime scene presses on. Colonel Melrose expresses doubt that the unknown visitor from the bustling railway station will ever be identified. Poirot quizzes Dr. Sheppard regarding the enigmatic man he ran into at 9:00 p.m. the night before. He muses on the exact time of the stranger's appearance at the window, suggesting the fastest path would require awareness of the property's layout. Inquiring about recent visitors, Parker and Raymond share about a Dictaphone salesman's visit on Wednesday. However, his diminutive stature doesn't correspond to the tall stranger. Poirot reveals three significant pieces of evidence to Dr. Sheppard: the unlatched window, the internally locked door, and the displaced chair. Inspector Raglan wraps up his questioning of the staff, inhabitants, and visitors regarding their activities the night before. He presents his belief that Ralph is the killer. Poirot questions why Ralph would have made the call, a question to which the inspector has no answer. Mary Black, a lodge employee, claimed to have seen Ralph walking towards the residence. At a seasonal outbuilding, Poirot discovers female footprints, a strip of stiff white fabric, and the hollow part of a goose quill.

chapter 9

In the progressing daylight, Poirot and Dr. Sheppard surreptitiously observe Flora and Blunt. Flora has been informed by the attorney, Mr. Hammond, that her uncle Roger bequeathed her a sum of 20,000 pounds, causing her great delight. She teases Blunt, who is lost in thoughts about returning to Africa. When Flora requests him to extend his stay, he appears somewhat comforted. Blunt notices a piece of trinket at the bottom of the goldfish pond. Poirot conducts an interview with Flora and Blunt about their activities on the preceding night. Blunt recalls to Poirot that he was smoking on the terrace at 9:30 p.m., when he heard Roger’s voice from his study. He also saw a woman in white passing through the bushes. Flora distinctly remembers that the dagger was absent when she and Dr. Sheppard were examining the curio case prior to dinner. Poirot retrieves a woman’s golden wedding ring from the pond, engraved with “From R., March 13th.”

chapter 10

As September 18 nears lunchtime, Poirot learns Roger's will specifics from Mr. Hammond. Miss Russell receives 1,000 pounds, Emma Cooper gets 50 pounds, Geoffrey Raymond is bequeathed 500 pounds, Mrs. Ackroyd becomes the beneficiary of income from 10,000 Ackroyd and Son shares, Flora inherits 20,000 pounds and Ralph gets the rest of the estate, a significant amount. Mr. Hammond also discloses Ralph's poor financial habits to Poirot. With Dr. Sheppard's assistance, Poirot learns of Blunt's financial windfall a year ago which he wasted in a problematic investment. Following the meal, Mrs. Ackroyd is disgruntled about her and Flora's meager inheritance compared to Miss Russell's. Mr. Hammond checks Roger's cash reserve of a hundred pounds, meant for wages and costs. Raymond reveals Roger's penchant for storing cash in a box which he last saw him do the previous day. Upon accessing Roger's locked wing, Mr. Hammond discovers forty pounds are missing. The housemaid Elsie Dale's access to Roger's room raises suspicion. Miss Russell confirms Miss Dale's integrity and provides Ursula Bourne's reference letter, who resigned after a dispute with Roger the day before. Upon inquiry, Ursula confirms the argument lasted half an hour. Poirot points out Ursula's lack of an alibi to Dr. Sheppard and instructs him to verify the reference letter's authenticity in Marby, located 14 miles away.

chapter 11

On the afternoon of September 19, Dr. Sheppard travels to Marby to speak with Mrs. Folliott regarding her past employment of Ursula Bourne. However, she behaves strangely and does not provide any helpful information, causing Dr. Sheppard to leave empty-handed. He then heads back to King’s Abbot, sees a few patients, and finally returns home at six in the evening. In his absence, Poirot pays a visit for a tea session. He entertains Caroline with tales of his intriguing past cases, while she reciprocates by sharing information about the Ackroyd murder. Poirot gleans details about Ralph's suspicious conversation with an unknown woman. He also learns about the individuals Dr. Sheppard attended to on the morning of September 17—these include Mrs. Bennett, a farmhand, Dolly Grice, a steward from an American ship, George Evans, and Miss Russell.

chapter 12

On September 20, the coroner conducts the mandatory autopsy. Post this, Inspector Raglan shares with Poirot and Dr. Sheppard that there's a nationwide search for Ralph. He thinks Ralph might have escaped to Liverpool, deducing from the timing of the call made to Dr. Sheppard from the railway station. Poirot emphasizes that understanding the purpose of this call is crucial to unravelling the mystery and advises Inspector Raglan to compare Roger’s fingerprints with those on the murder weapon. An unexpected gathering is convened by Poirot at the Fernly Park dining table with Mrs. Ackroyd, Flora, Blunt, Raymond, and Dr. Sheppard. He asks anyone with details about Ralph’s location to come forward. Mrs. Ackroyd hypothesizes that Ralph, suffering from war-induced stress, could be the killer and ponders about the estate's fate if he's convicted. Flora vehemently disagrees and decides to declare her engagement to Ralph publicly the following day to express her allegiance. However, Poirot persuades her to delay the announcement. He then confronts everyone, accusing them of concealing something, and no one can withstand his intense scrutiny.

chapter 13

Dr. Sheppard spends the evening at Poirot's place, curious about Poirot's interest in his patients following Caroline's revelations. Poirot admits to being particularly intrigued by Miss Russell, without revealing any more details. Dr. Sheppard implores Poirot to share his thoughts on the murder case. Poirot elucidates his investigative process which involves confirming details from multiple sources. He reveals that a mysterious stranger that Dr. Sheppard met on the murder night was probably an American. He correlates this with evidence from the summerhouse, suggesting the stranger might be a cocaine addict, typical of North Americans who use a goose quill for snorting cocaine. Dr. Sheppard puts forth his hypothesis: Ralph visited Roger for money through the window, but is not the killer. The American stranger, according to him, slipped in through the same window post Ralph's departure to murder Roger. The murder weapon was given by Parker, who Dr. Sheppard suspects to be the blackmailer. However, Poirot disagrees, citing unexplained clues in Dr. Sheppard's theory and finds the evidence against Ralph overly convenient, thereby raising suspicion about its credibility.

chapter 14

On September 21, Dr. Sheppard realizes that Poirot no longer includes him in his discussions about the case. The whole investigation starts to feel disjointed to the doctor. That morning, Mrs. Ackroyd calls him over, pretending to be exhausted, and reveals information she's been keeping to herself: four days ago, Ursula found Mrs. Ackroyd looking through Roger's desk for his will. Mrs. Ackroyd believes Ursula was spying on her. She also admits that she left the lid of the curio case open after hearing footsteps while she was nabbing a piece of silver. Upon leaving, Dr. Sheppard briefly talks to Ursula about the time of death. At the same time, Caroline uses her resources at Poirot's behest to find out the color of Ralph's boots from the Three Boars inn's employees.

chapter 15

Dr. Sheppard returns from his rounds on the afternoon of September 21, only to find out from Caroline that Raymond had been searching for Poirot. Intrigued, she instructs Sheppard to take a jar of jelly and the news of the boots to Poirot. On hearing that the boots were black and not brown, Poirot appears disappointed. Poirot brings up the subject of cocaine, questioning Sheppard if Miss Russel mentioned it during her visit on September 17. He proceeds to present Sheppard with a newspaper article discussing the same topic published that day. Raymond decides to confess to Poirot, revealing that he was deep in debt and was significantly helped by Roger's gift of 500 pounds. Once Raymond leaves, Poirot and Sheppard head to Fernly Park where they involve Flora and Parker in a re-staging of their encounter outside the study on the evening of September 17. Flora stations herself outside the shut door, implying she had just closed it. Parker affirms that her hand was still on the knob when he saw her. Poirot informs Sheppard that this exercise has taught him something new, although he doesn't disclose what it is.

chapter 16

Caroline and Dr. Sheppard spend a night playing Mah Jong and engaging in chatter with friends Colonel Carter and Miss Ganett on September 21, a Tuesday. Caroline surmises that Ralph could be hiding in Cranchester, an idea influenced by Poirot’s previous remarks about the town. This notion is further backed by Miss Ganett's account of seeing Poirot return from Cranchester that day. As Dr. Sheppard basks in his Mah Jong victory, he accidentally spills details about the wedding ring inscription, leading to a flurry of guesses: Ralph and Flora are secretly wed, Roger was clandestinely hitched to Mrs. Ferrars, Roger was married to Miss Russell, or Raymond and Flora are a married couple.

chapter 17

Following the combined funeral service for Mrs. Ferrars and Roger, Poirot enlists Dr. Sheppard's assistance in questioning Parker at midday. They confront Parker about his previous blackmailing antics towards his former boss, Major Ellerby, regarding a death. Parker confesses to being intrigued by the possibility of blackmail after accidentally hearing a conversation about it between Roger and Dr. Sheppard. However, he denies having any knowledge of Mrs. Ferrars and believed Roger was the blackmail victim. Upon inspection, Parker's bankbook shows no evidence of any dubious transactions. Later, Poirot and Dr. Sheppard meet with Mr. Hammond, the solicitor for Mrs. Ferrars's property. Dr. Sheppard is asked to recount his discussion with Roger from the preceding Friday. Mr. Hammond reveals that Mrs. Ferrars had liquidated some assets to make a payment of 20,000 pounds under the pretext of aiding her husband's impoverished relatives. This revelation leaves Dr. Sheppard astounded. Poirot highlights that Blunt also received a similar amount. In an evening conversation with Caroline and Dr. Sheppard, Poirot sketches a psychological image of the blackmailer; an initially good man that deteriorated under greed, bullying a wealthy widow, ultimately pushing her over the edge. Poirot theorizes that this man, fearing exposure, becomes desperate and murders the one person who could expose him - Roger. Meanwhile, Dr. Sheppard is summoned by the Liverpool police to identify Charles Kent as the mysterious stranger he had previously encountered.

chapter 18

On September 23, Poirot, Dr. Sheppard and Inspector Raglan head to Liverpool by train. The inspector verifies that the fingerprints on the murder weapon were Roger’s. Superintendent Hayes introduces Charles Kent to Dr. Sheppard and Poirot. Dr. Sheppard recognizes Kent's voice and height to match the mysterious stranger he encountered on the murder night. Poirot presents the goose quill to Kent, implying his awareness of Kent's presence at Fernly Park on the murder night. Kent provides his alibi - he was causing a ruckus at the Dog and Whistle bar near Cranchester at 9:45 p.m. Inspector Raglan notes Kent's alibi for verification. Poirot hints at the importance of the surname “Kent,” a hint that only Kent seems to understand.

chapter 19

On September 24th, Kent's alibi is authenticated by Inspector Raglan and shared with Dr. Sheppard. Though Kent stays silent about his Fernly Park visit, Raglan reveals Caroline informed him about Poirot's mentally ill nephew. Dr. Sheppard and Raglan approach Poirot about the verified alibi. However, the inspector and Poirot clash over whether to set Kent free, as the time Roger was killed is still uncertain. Poirot proposes a different version of Flora's movements after leaving Roger's study, leading Raglan to suggest questioning her further. At Fernly, the trio of Raglan, Poirot, and Dr. Sheppard encounter Flora and Blunt in the billiards room. Poirot's suggested version of events is validated by Flora, who admits she extracted 40 pounds from Roger's room. Upon hearing Parker in the hallway, she faked exiting Roger's study, though she had not seen Roger since dinner. Blunt attempts to bear the brunt of the theft, but Poirot dismisses his version of events. Poirot encourages Blunt to confess his love for Flora, assuring him that Flora's relationship with Ralph is purely friendly.

chapter 20

Upon returning to the village with Dr. Sheppard and Poirot, Inspector Raglan expresses frustration about the murder timeline, which has become unclear due to Flora's lie about her time spent with Roger post-dinner. He proposes an alternate theory, envisioning Kent breaking in through the window, killing Roger for money, and subsequently, Ralph finding the body and notifying Dr. Sheppard. Following his routine patient visits, Dr. Sheppard retreats to his workshop to indulge in his hobby of device tinkering. There, Poirot shows him the concocted news piece he's planned to release in the next day’s paper, revealing Ralph's so-called discovery in Liverpool. Dr. Sheppard utilizes this opportunity to display his latest inventions. Poirot has scheduled a meeting with Miss Russell in Dr. Sheppard's office to discuss the events. He discloses to her that Kent has been apprehended by the Liverpool police. Furthermore, he rationalizes Kent’s presence at Fernly Park as a probable indication of him being the culprit, considering Flora’s recent admission of her lie. Poirot stresses that only Miss Russell's testimony can absolve Kent. She admits to Poirot’s conjecture about Kent being her illegitimate, cocaine-addicted son who had come to request money. Uncertain whether she should risk her position at Fernly Park by helping Kent, Miss Russell inquires about her course of action. Poirot suggests she wait to see how events unfold in the case.

chapter 21

Poirot's announcement is featured in the day's newspaper on September 25. Caroline hopes for Ralph's innocence and puts forth the idea that Dr. Sheppard could declare him mentally unstable due to his medical authority. Sheppard then inquires about Poirot's allegedly mentally ill nephew, to which Caroline provides more details about the family's plans of possibly putting him in a mental institution. A foreigner arrives at Poirot's place early that day, leading Caroline to speculate that he might be a government official from the Home Office, the UK's immigration and narcotics department. Avoiding Caroline's probing, Poirot requests Sheppard to invite Mrs. Ackroyd, Flora, Blunt, and Raymond to a gathering at his house later that night. Mrs. Ackroyd informs Sheppard of Flora and Blunt's impending marriage. Ursula makes an appearance at the Sheppards in search of Poirot, who introduces her as Ursula Paton, Ralph's spouse.

chapter 22

Ursula, prompted by Poirot's fake news of Ralph's arrest, comes to Poirot to share her story. She talks about her once wealthy family's descent into poverty and how she ended up becoming a parlormaid at Fernly Park. It was here she met and fell secretly in love with Ralph. Knowing his stepfather Roger wouldn't approve of his marriage to a poor girl, Ralph decided to keep their marriage a secret, waiting to reveal it until he was financially stable. Ralph hoped that Roger would help him with his debts, but this expectation only led to Roger's anger and refusal to assist him. Instead, Roger suggested that Ralph marry his niece, Flora, who saw the marriage proposal as a golden ticket to financial security. Ralph and Flora decided to keep their engagement a secret, with Ralph hoping to keep Ursula unaware so that he could potentially end the engagement later. However, Roger soon announced their engagement and Ursula discovered their secret. Ursula's secret conversation with Ralph was overheard by Caroline in the woods. Unable to continue living a duplicitous life, Ursula decided to reveal their secret marriage to Roger in a heated argument. Later that evening, Ursula met with Ralph in the summerhouse to inform him that Roger knew about their secret marriage. This led to an argument, with Ralph blaming Ursula for jeopardizing his chances of financial stability with her revelation. Both Ursula and Ralph had reasons to kill Roger, as he would likely disinherit Ralph. When Ursula asked Dr. Sheppard about Ralph's location, he denied knowing anything. Poirot corroborated Dr. Sheppard's claim of ignorance.

chapter 23

On the afternoon of September 25, Dr. Sheppard shares with Poirot that he's been recording the details of Roger Ackroyd's murder investigation. Highly interested, Poirot reads the journal, praising its factual accuracy but noting Dr. Sheppard's exclusion of himself from the narrative. Poirot, Dr. Sheppard, and Ursula head to Poirot's residence for a meeting, where Mrs. Ackroyd, Flora, Blunt, and Raymond soon join them. Poirot introduces Ursula as the new Mrs. Ralph Payton. Flora kindly wishes Ursula well, understanding Ralph's need for secrecy. The meeting is later joined by Parker and Miss Russell. Poirot starts off the meeting by stating that everyone present had the means to murder Roger, but Ralph and Ursula had the most motive. He then unveils the existence of the Dictaphone, suggesting that the conversation Blunt overheard on the murder night may have been one-sided, implying that Roger might have been alone. The meeting is further interrupted by Ralph's arrival.

chapter 24

Dr. Sheppard is taken aback by Ralph's unexpected appearance. He is accused by Poirot of concealing Ralph at a psychiatric care center in Cranchester. Poirot surmised that Dr. Sheppard had rendezvoused with Ralph after looking for him at the Three Boars. Dr. Sheppard admits that he and Ralph had a discussion earlier where Ralph revealed his covert marriage and the subsequent predicament concerning his inheritance. Poirot theorized that Dr. Sheppard agreed to assist Ralph by shielding him from the law enforcement till the murder mystery was unraveled. Poirot discloses that he discovered from Caroline about the institutes that Dr. Sheppard recommends for mentally troubled patients while pretending to seek assistance for a disturbed relative. Upon visiting these facilities, Poirot learned that Dr. Sheppard had checked in a patient the day following the murder. Poirot also discloses that Ralph was released to him from the facility on September 24, an event that Caroline happened to notice. Ralph provides details about his actions after his meeting with Ursula in the summerhouse. He states that he wandered around the town contemplating his next move after she had left. Poirot declares that the only option to exonerate Ralph is if the actual murderer confesses. He puts forth a challenge to everyone present, giving them until the following day to confess, failing which he would expose the murderer to Inspector Raglan. A telegram arrives for Poirot from a ship heading to the USA, which Poirot announces is the last piece of evidence needed to conclusively identify the murderer.

chapter 25

Following the meeting, Poirot asks Dr. Sheppard for his perspective. Sheppard wonders why Poirot sent out a warning instead of calling Inspector Raglan to make an arrest, thereby giving the killer a chance to flee. Poirot insists that the murderer cannot escape. Sheppard is then curious about the identity of the criminal. Poirot explains the importance of the phone call Sheppard received on Friday night, which according to him, alerted him to the murder. If not for this call, Roger's body wouldn't have been found until the next day and the murderer needed an excuse to return to the murder site. Poirot reveals that an important evidence, the Dictaphone, had to be removed from the room for the killer's scheme to work. The Dictaphone, set for timed playback, was the source of Roger's voice heard by Raymond and Blunt since Roger was already deceased. Poirot also points out that Ralph’s footprints were intentionally created to frame him for the murder, and the killer collected the shoes from the Three Boars earlier. The absence of the dagger from the case before dinner was confirmed by Flora. Finally, Poirot uncovers Dr. Sheppard as the prime suspect who has the technical expertise to modify the Dictaphone with a timer, who was present at the Three Boars inn earlier, who had the chance to steal the dagger, and whose medical bag could easily remove the Dictaphone from the scene of the crime.

chapter 26

Poirot accuses Dr. Sheppard of being the killer, but he dismisses the claim as madness. Poirot elaborates on his accusation with detailed evidence. He notes that Dr. Sheppard's schedule allowed him to leave through the front door at 8:50 p.m., cycle back to the summerhouse to wear Ralph's shoes, create muddy tracks by entering the study via an open window, lock the study from inside, exit from the window, switch to his own shoes, and reach the gate by 9:00 p.m. He was home when the Dictaphone activated at 9:15 p.m. Poirot's theory suggests that Dr. Sheppard's motive was a letter from Mrs. Ferrars, revealing him as her blackmailer to Roger. Roger would've shown no sympathy to Dr. Sheppard. The phone call that allowed Dr. Sheppard to collect the Dictaphone was made on his orders by an American ship steward, a patient he saw on Friday morning. This fact was confirmed by a telegram Poirot received. When Dr. Sheppard acts clueless, Poirot reveals that he delayed sharing his findings with the police for the sake of Caroline, to spare her the ordeal of a trial.

chapter 27

Dr. Sheppard reveals that he had initially intended to trick Hercule Poirot and escape from his crime. He narrates how his intention to remain unidentified as Mrs. Ferrars's blackmailer formed when observing her and Ralph. Killing Roger was always a part of his plot, as he believed that Mrs. Ferrars would eventually disclose everything to Roger. Reflecting on his manuscript, Dr. Sheppard is contented with the misleading details he provided about the murder night. He relishes his clean-up of the crime scene, packing the Dictaphone, and repositioning the chair that hid the device. Dr. Sheppard laments that his flawless strategy was ruined due to the unforeseen actions of others. He confesses having viewed Caroline and her observational skills as his biggest threat, and now, he yearns to safeguard her from the reality of his flawed character. Poirot foresaw this compassionate instinct of Dr. Sheppard, a gentleman with a past morality, and asked him to conclude his manuscript with a confession to the crime. Poirot also proposed that an overdose on Dr. Sheppard's part would eliminate any future repercussions. Finally, Dr. Sheppard decides to take veronal, viewing it as a form of poetic justice.

Enjoying this summary?
Buy the book! (it's better)

People who recommended The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Lists that recommended The Murder of Roger Ackroyd