Hercule Poirot: Series IX: Cat Among the Pigeons

Hercule Poirot is faced with one of his toughest cases yet — one involving international espionage, a revolution in a foreign land, a missing princess and a sparkling treasure.

When revolutionaries overrun the country of Ramat, the surviving heir to the throne is spirited away to safety in England at the Meadowbank girls' school, run by the progressive Miss Bulstrode. When a bullying teacher is found stabbed through the chest with a javelin, it appears that Meadowbank may not be the safe haven it is heralded to be.

As Poirot assists Inspector Keslsey, they begin to find that some of the staff may not be quite what they appear, a situation which is compounded when another teacher is found dead and Princess Shaista is kidnapped from the school. With the life of a princess in peril, and the prized rubies of Ramat missing, it is up to Poirot to discover the ruthless killer who is the cat among the pigeons.

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

A revolution overthrows Prince Ali Yusuf in the country of Ramat. But before the prince dies, his friend manages to hide priceless rubies in the tennis racquet of Jennifer Sutcliffe, an English schoolgirl.

When the term begins at Meadowbank School, everyone notices the new pupil, Princess Shaista, Prince Ali Yusuf's cousin and intended bride. By rights, the jewels now belong to her but nobody knows where they are.

Jennifer complains that her tennis racquet doesn't feel right, and swaps with her friend Julia Upjohn. Soon, the sadistic and unpopular gym teacher, Miss Springer, is found murdered in the gymnasium. Fortunately, Hercule Poirot is an old friend of the Meadowbank headmistress Miss Bulstrode, and is at the school to help advise her on who to choose as a successor when she retires. He is soon making progress, along with Inspector Kelsey, discovering that not everyone is quite who they say they are.

First, Poirot discovers that the gardener, Adam Goodman, is in fact a Secret Service spy charged with keeping an eye on the Princess. Poirot realizes that the murder is somehow connected to Ramat, but how? With Miss Springer's killer still on the loose, things take a turn for the worse when Princess Shaista is kidnapped and Miss Rich, the English teacher, is attacked. However, Julia has discovered the jewels in her racquet and takes them to Poirot — he now understands what the killing is all about.

Parents begin taking their children out of school and it seems things can't get any worse when Miss Blanche, the French teacher, is also found murdered in the gymnasium. But Poirot now knows who the killer is and gathers everyone together.

Poirot explains that Princess Shaista was in fact an impostor, sent to the school by villains to receive the jewels should one of the dead Prince's loyal subjects try and deliver them to her. Her kidnapping was all staged, and the real Shaista had been kidnapped in Switzerland months earlier. He then reveals that Ann Shapland, the school secretary, is in fact a spy who was working for the revolutionaries in Ramat and saw the jewels being hidden in the tennis racquet. She has followed the jewels ever since and has killed those who got in her way.

Poirot also explains that Shapland did not attack Miss Rich. Her attacker was the deputy headmistress Miss Chadwick — jealous that Miss Rich was to be named as the new headmistress rather than her. When Shapland is arrested, Miss Chadwick is shot trying to defend Miss Bulstrode.

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