Murder on the Istanbul Express

(5 customer reviews)


Murder on the Istanbul Express is a 1914 murder mystery game set aboard the luxurious Istanbul Express for 7 to 11 guests and one host. Characters include the train crew, merchants, inventors – and spies! Written by Mark Jarrell. Recommended for ages 12+.


Murder on the Istanbul Express is a murder mystery game for 7 to 11 guests and one host. It is set in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, aboard the luxurious Istanbul Express. Characters include the train crew, merchants, inventors – and spies!  Download the free introductory pdf file.

Murder on the Istanbul Express is a thrilling evening of luxurious travel, intrigue, and murder. Your guests will be in the middle of the action, and it will be up to them to wheel and deal to get what they want. Will they achieve their goals, keep their secrets hidden, and survive Murder on the Istanbul Express?

MIE-01 Murder on the Istanbul Express
MIE-02 Murder on the Istanbul Express
MIE-05 Murder on the Istanbul Express
See stories and pictures from Murder on the Istanbul Express. Click here to read the Istanbul Gazette.

The luxurious Istanbul Express takes three days to travel between Istanbul, Turkey and Paris, France. The train line is lavishly opulent and has a glowing reputation. Tonight, some of Europe’s most notable citizens and travelers (and some who are not so notable) are journeying in style through the European countryside.

Two days ago (June 29, 1914), just before the train left Istanbul, newspapers announced that Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, had been assassinated in neighboring Bosnia. Everyone is now on edge – this could be the start of a great war.

A further trouble is the discovery of a dead body in the kitchen car this evening. Selda Zaim, the maid of Turkish merchant Esra Hoca, appears to have been bludgeoned over the head with a cooking pot.

It is now midnight and only a few hours until the Istanbul Express arrives in Paris and the proper authorities can investigate the crime. But until then, there are many mysteries to unfold…

Murder on the Istanbul Express lasts for about four hours and is suited to an evening. It is often played over a meal – a finger buffet if possible, to allow guests to circulate and talk in private.

MIE-03 Murder on the Istanbul Express
MIE-04 Murder on the Istanbul Express
MIE-06 Murder on the Istanbul Express
One of our more straightforward murder mystery games, suitable for beginner hosts.
No combat, no poison.
No combat, no poison.
Characters are ungendered.
Characters are ungendered.

The free introductory pdf file contains an introduction to the game and a cast list of all the characters.

Cast of characters


  • Pat Dijon: Police inspector from Paris
  • Max Fairsonne: Turkish sculptor
  • Esra Hoca: Turkish merchant who sells luxurious cashmere
  • Sava Hatmanu: Famous chemist from Romania
  • Sam Lively: American inventor
  • Jay Middleton: British professor of archaeology based in Budapest
  • Hersch Muller: German attorney
  • Alexe Petrescu: Romanian tourist and museum fanatic

Train crew

  • Marin Aromblast: Bulgarian waiter
  • Lou Gardet: French conductor
  • Battista Giovanni: Italian cook

The characters are all ungendered, so they can be played by any mix of guests as required.

You also need a host – someone to organize the party and ensure everything runs smoothly.

How Freeform Games murder mystery games work

Murder on the Istanbul Express is unlike other murder mystery games. Although the game starts with a murder, each character has several goals they must try to accomplish. While they may want to solve the murder, Murder on the Istanbul Express contains plenty of other plots and secrets to keep everyone busy. Murder on the Istanbul Express isn’t scripted, and lets the players decide how to achieve their goals and thwart their enemies.

On the evening of the game the guests are met by the organizer and welcomed to the Istanbul Express.

They then receive their detailed backgrounds – including dark secrets, objectives and money. The fun then begins as they form alliances, blackmail each other, steal items and maybe even try to murder one another!

Along the way they may uncover some of the mysteries of Murder on the Istanbul Express. Who has been stealing historical artifacts? Who is here under a false identity? What happened to the promising new radio technology? And, of course, who killed Selda Zaim?

Depending on what the players choose to do, there are several different possible endings, but finally everyone finds out how they did, and what secrets everyone else was concealing.

Recommended for ages 12+

We recommend Murder on the Istanbul Express for those aged 12+,  as it is family-friendly and contains no adult themes..

Extra characters

Sometimes you have too many guests and need more characters. Murder on the Istanbul Express comes with free extra characters (written by us or previous hosts) that are included in the download when you purchase the game.

  • Cato Janssen – Belgian journalist (Any)
    (by Freeform Games)

Please note that we haven’t always tested these – and they may not tie in exactly with our games.

“Thank you for a great site, fantastic games, good service and very quick reply. Keep up the good work.” Ole Martin Brodwall, Norway

Cast Iron Guarantee

We offer a Cast Iron Guarantee on all our murder mystery games. If you’re not completely satisfied with Murder on the Istanbul Express then please let us know within 30 days and we will refund you. See our full terms and conditions, and our refund policy.

Trouble downloading? If you have trouble downloading the game files, please first check your spam folder. If you still can’t find the download email, drop us a line at with the name of the game and the email address you used to purchase it, and we’ll resend it.

5 reviews for Murder on the Istanbul Express

  1. Ellen Hoam (verified owner)

    We ran this game as a surprise for a bachelor party. The participants could have handled a more complex game, but they were not going to receive their player information until the night of the party, so we wanted to stay on the simpler side. They all had a great time and are asking when the next one will be!

    Image #1 from Ellen Hoam
  2. Anonymous (verified owner)

  3. Jessica Mcmunn (verified owner)

    It was truly enjoyable, though I’d mention that it seemed potentially more challenging to navigate than required. Nonetheless, it was an overall enjoyable experience.

  4. Eva H. (verified owner)

    Our family group of 14 people played this on Christmas holiday. Our group was ages 10 – 65, we had a blast. I was the host; it is a fair amount of reading so I would say give yourself a week ahead of the game to go over all the character booklets and the game material. A Turkish chef, who is a dear friend, cooked an authentic meal for us. It worked well to start with drinks and apps while everyone is conspiring in small groups for 1- 1& 1/2 hrs and then we sat down and discussed things all together over the meal. Well done, you’ve created a wonderful game, it was a lot of fun. My only suggestion would be to make a concise, one page game plan for the host. It was never clear to me how to conduct the game, I had to piece together instructions. Someone who has played dragons & dungeons might feel differently.

  5. A Customer (store manager)

    We just finished playing Murder on the Istanbul Express, and we had a great time! Definitely plan to do it again. All in all, great experience, and definitely way better than I expected! Thank you for providing us with a great evening! 🙂

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Q & A

How soon will I get my game? asked on 6 June 2020

You can download your game immediately after making your purchase. We will also send you an email message containing a download link and password so you can download your game later.

answered on 5 June 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Where's my password? asked on 4 June 2020

Please check your email (including your junk folder). If you're sure you haven't received it, then please get in touch. It helps us if you tell us when you purchased the game and what email address you used.

answered on 3 June 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
How do freeform murder mystery games work? asked on 2 June 2020

Most of our games have an impartial host who organizes the party. Hosts don't solve the murder with everyone else – they have already read the game and instead watch the game unfolding.

Guests use their wits and negotiate, scheme, and plot with other guests to get what they want. Nobody needs to learn complicated backgrounds or memorize lines – character backgrounds are little more than a side or two of paper – which can be kept to hand for reference during the game.

answered on 1 June 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Have you got any games for beginners? asked on 31 May 2020

Yes! If this is your first time hosting a Freeform Games murder mystery, we suggest choosing one of our more straightforward games. Click here for our 'games for beginners' page.

answered on 30 May 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Do you have any games suitable for all-male or all-female groups? asked on 29 May 2020

Yes! We have several games where all the characters are ungendered and can be played by anyone. Click here to see our ungendered games.

answered on 28 May 2020 store manager
(0) (0)

Ask a question

Your question will be answered by a store representative or other customers.

Thank you for the question!

Your question has been received and will be answered soon. Please do not submit the same question again.



An error occurred when saving your question. Please report it to the website administrator. Additional information:

Add an answer

Thank you for the answer!

Your answer has been received and will be published soon. Please do not submit the same answer again.



An error occurred when saving your answer. Please report it to the website administrator. Additional information: