MetaTerminal Presents: The Murder on the Overland Limited

June 13, 2023

This is a work of fanfiction. You can read the puzzle that it’s based on here.

This text will spoil the entirety of The Mystery of Cabin 14C from the very beginning, including the solution.


The year is 1916. War writhes across Europe, carving up millions of young men in the mud of the fronts. Across the sea, in America, war has not been declared. Yet-undiscovered German sabotage of a munitions factory killed four only a few weeks ago. Life goes on.

Railroads cover over 250,000 miles of this plundered country; the most it has ever covered to date, and the most it ever will. But the tides of time are changing. The railroad labor brotherhoods have drafted a new labor law. America, taking after its parent, has not been kind to union action in the past. This time, they hope it will be different.

Meanwhile, the Overland Limited snakes its way west, carving through the unseasonable cold of the Sierra Nevada. Soon, a passenger will be killed. Owing to the efforts of a coincidental detective, another passenger, Doctor Thomas Wong, will take the fall for this death.

Unfortunately, Doctor Wong is innocent.


The train had been still for only half an hour, halting just as the sun had finished its dive. The blossoming orange in the sky had given way to bruised purples and mottled blues. If one was careful, and lucky, they perhaps would be able to see the very first stars now, hanging over Mount Lola. But perhaps not.

Louis Washington brought up his hand and knocked on the door of Cabin 14C.

It took a moment for her to answer. He was afraid that she would be asleep - that would complicate matters - but after a frighteningly long pause, there was a response. “Who is it?”

“It’s Louis.”

He heard her shuffling, and then she swung open the door slightly. At first, she seemed shocked to see him, but the uncertainty vanished. In its place she tried to perch herself around the edge of the door, like a child peeking around the corner. “You don’t look like that charming Mr. Washington.”

He smiled falsely. “My dear, nobody does. May we talk?”

Lynette swung open the door further. “What do you want, Louis?”

She was framed from behind by the lamplight, bracing one hand against her walking stick, and the other against a door. Even in her formal business dress, she looked… old. Had it really been that long since they had last spoken?

“Can two friends merely not be in each others’ lives?” Louis said.

She studied him a while, and then began making her way across the room to her chair. He took the open door behind her as an invitation and entered, letting the door swing closed, and leaned gently against the small cabinet at the foot of her bed.

“Why now, Louis?”

“I don’t know.” And then, because speaking plainly was always the best bet with her, “You look old.”

“You always knew how to charm women.” She had returned to her desk, and began to write, in that tight little handwriting of hers.

“It’s just the lighting. Plus, that train attendant, Mr. Gehrlich? You look younger when he’s around. Your face lights up.”

Though her back was turned to him, he could tell that she was smirking. “I suppose there’s no use denying it. You wouldn’t cause me a scandal, would you?”

“No,” he said. “You seem very capable of doing that yourself.”

“I’m not as old as I look, you know. Ha! Should be the other way around. But I suppose I was already working when Foltz quit the field. We all worshiped her. A colleague of mine nearly became a public defender a few years ago.”

He didn’t know Foltz, and he didn’t ask. “Public defender?”

She waved a hand, still not looking up. “Government pays you to represent some poor fellow. They would have had to move to Los Angeles, though. And they didn’t pay well.”

“So, not out of the kindness of your heart.”


“I didn’t intend that.”

“You– Of course you did. You never say anything–”

“I don’t want to fight.”

“–you don’t mean, it’s that damned silver tongue of yours. Well, I don’t know what you came here for, but I hope you’re getting it.”

The pen kept scratching at the paper, making those tiny letters. Longhand. He had always been bothered by that.

“I am sorry.”

“I don’t want to hear it, either. You got a nice little job as a legislative assistant doing good, or whatever you think you’re doing. I’m happy for you. Really.”

“How long has it been, Lyn?” he said, quietly.

Lynette stopped, and put down her pen. She turned her chair to face him. It took some difficulty. “Five years. Maybe a little more.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Do you? I still mean what I said. I believe you still do, as well. Otherwise you would have talked to me earlier, instead of avoiding me the entire trip like an embarrassed schoolboy. I half expected you to jump off the train!”

“I thought about it,” he said, smiling at her.

“Don’t give me that.”

“Fine. Old habits for old friends. I came to talk to you about your latest case.”

“Yes.” She rose, unsteadily, taking hold of her cane. “I thought you had.”

For a moment, he hoped that she would explain everything on her own, elucidate some hidden factor. Some reasonable explanation. But he’d learned, long ago, not to expect that from her.

Instead, she simply walked over to the window. “What do you want to know?”

“It’s madness. Can’t you see that this is madness?”

“That’s not much of a question, Louis.”

“It’s not much of a case! The Southern Pacific case was closed. Those strikers were killed in cold blood. I mean, the Pinkerton office is down the damned hall in the Flood Building. What else is there to say?”

“There’s new evidence. A whole host of my old cases will get reconsidered.”

“And rail barons and hired thugs alike get off the hook. How wonderful.”

“It is! It is wonderful for me, because I’m doing my job. We don’t all get to swan about all day being soporific about what could be, because look, I’m stuck with what actually is. And don’t look all high and mighty at me either. You can hew your falsehoods how you will.”

“That’s not how the line goes.”

“Spare me. Law is truth, Mr. Washington. Don’t we agree on that? And the truth is always ethical. The truth wants to be free.”

“And if this new evidence is faked? Some fellow railroad man has forged some documents, or some other millionaire has bailed his friends out?”

“Then the court will settle that too. In time.”

“Except it won’t. They’ve killed dozens and they’ll kill dozens more, if they think that they can get away with it. Even if they don’t, but especially if they do. I work in Congress, Lyn. You can’t pull the wool over my eyes with the justice will be served mantra. We both know how it really is.”

“It strikes me that every time we speak we have the same conversation. Don’t you ever want to mix it up a little?”

He frowned. “Don’t try to be funny. You’re no good at it.”

“In fairness, neither are you.”

He said nothing to that. They both stood there, these two old folks, him resting his legs against this cabinet, her watching the snow fall gently outside. Too old, Louis thought. Too much. What a world to live in, that men and women in their forties were too old. Why did Lyn need that walking stick? It would be more polite not to ask.

“Snowing in the summer,” she said. “Nevada has much to answer for.”

“I believe we’re in California, right now,” he said, remembering what Millicent had said. And then: why did he say that? But Lyn didn’t ask.

“This must be about Kettner’s new law.”

“Adamson’s, actually.”

“Makes no difference to anyone. Yes, I know. I know that bolstering Southern and Union Pacific will set you back. I know that the second those men aren’t tied up fighting the brotherhoods they’ll push back against Adamson and Kettner and whoever else. Wilson, too, it wouldn’t surprise me. I know the men and women working up and down this line don’t want me delivering this evidence tomorrow in court. It wouldn’t even surprise me if the engineer got wind of it somehow and stopped this train. But it’s my job, and I’ll do it, because if I don’t do it then someone else will.”

“And if you don’t?”

“I told you.”

“Let me clarify. If you didn’t present this new evidence in court, what would happen?”

“They’ll hold the trial for me for a day. I’ve got good lawyers. Even lawyers have lawyers, these days.”

“Permanently. Out of some pure goodness in your heart.”

“Oh. Well. This time?” She adjusted her posture. “My semblance of integrity would be gone. Your petty victory. Word would get back to the railroad companies… It might take days, with the telegram, but I’d imagine it would take months. They’d need to send someone else. Maybe a year, then, with the appeals. So what? No difference here, no difference there.”

There is a difference, he thought. Because you’re killing Adamson’s law, that whole agreement, stone dead. The year mattered. And Adamson would save lives, up and down the line. Of course it would. Every law was written in blood, and the difference was how much it took to wet the nib.

“So you are presenting the evidence,” he said.

She spun on her heel and took a step towards him. “Every time we speak, it’s the same conversation! Yes, I am. I am. It’s the only option available to me. And it doesn’t much matter if this train doesn’t move, because the court will wait for me. So you can stop hoping for that, too.”

“If these charges don’t stick against Pacific–”

“So what, Louis? The world is what it is. Unless you have anything new to say to me, that you didn’t already say to me five years ago, I suggest that it was a bad idea for you to come here to begin with. Thank you, and goodnight.”


She sat again, leaned the cane against the desk, and took up her pen. He knew it was her manner of deliberately ignoring him.

“Fine,” Louis said. Fine. His watch claimed it was nearly nine. There were appointments to keep. “We can talk again in San Francisco. It was… good to see you, Lyn. I wish you a good evening.”

He stepped out into the hallway, and heard her lock the door behind him.


The dining car was quiet, with only a half-dozen passengers or so taking up the various booths and chairs. The bar – it was really more of a small standing desk with aspirations – was empty, save for some train attendant behind the table, and what appeared to be a human-sized mink drinking sidecars.

Louis spotted Ms. Green, sitting on her own in the corner, with her back to the wall. She seemed to notice him enter, but he drifted like he was meeting and greeting, smiling alternately at tables and the ambience, until he found himself by the bar, and took a seat next to the mink.

“Whiskey sour,” he said to the attendant. “Er. No egg whites.”

The man raised his eyebrows at him, but went about his work. The other barfly turned to him, stooped low in the half-light, and unveiled a row of glittering white teeth. “Hullo, Mr. Washington.”

It was Willow. Louis had tried to call her Ms. Wright, and at first she politely corrected him; when he forgot that, the second day of the journey, she had made fun of him at every available opportunity.

“Not tonight, please,” he said. “Bad night.”

“Awwwwww.” She pronounced all of the “w”s, and slumped lower around her drink. “You’re no fun. What’s with the drink order?”

“I don’t like egg whites.” He didn’t feel like explaining his particular dietary preferences to Willow, particularly not in this state. She seemed to be imitating a puddle.

“No fun.” Willow sniffled. “What’re you doing here?”

He wondered if she would be merciful enough to leave soon, but in all likelihood, she would be here all night. “Millicent wants to meet with me.”

“Uh-huh. Why’s she want to do that? Maybe it’s because you’re pretty.”

“She wants to talk to me about a law I’m passing.”

Willow was barely listening. She waved to the attendant for another drink.

“Don’t you think she’s had enough?” Louis said.

“She’s had two,” the bartender said. He placed down the whiskey sour.

“Ah. Well.” He picked up the glass. “Thank you, sir.”

Ms. Green was watching in-between forkfuls of pasta. He pulled out a chair, opened his mouth to ask to sit, but she shrugged and pointed with the fork.

Instead, he said, “They let you eat with the passengers?”

“Made an agreement with Jahn. Need to pay. Beats packed lunch.” She gestured again with a sharp object, chewing. From this angle, her head was framed by the carriage window, the moon rising behind her. “Make friends with Wright?”

“She’s busy.”

“I can see that.”

“What did the lawyer say?”

Louis spared a glance across the dimly lit room. Willow appeared to be chatting up the attendant. The other diners were distant, and immersed in their own quiet conversations, with cutlery clinking gently against the porcelain.

Ms. Green swallowed and put down her fork. “Don’t worry about her. She only cares about people’s drink orders and cheap newspaper serials.”

“I talked to her. She was… not inclined to listen.”

The engineer shrugged, and fished out a rag to wipe her mouth, ignoring the napkin on the table. “Figured. So what do we do, law-man?”

“Don’t call me that. I’m not a cop.”

“If you were a copper, I would call you a copper. Legislative aide doesn’t roll off the tongue.”

He said, “If she makes it to San Francisco, she’s going to present the evidence. It doesn’t matter how late she gets there, either. If she’s a day late, it makes no difference.”

“Figured that too.”

He thought Ms. Green would go on. She didn’t. They must make a sight: the two of them just sitting, ignoring each other’s company, not wanting to say what they were both thinking. If Willow’s back wasn’t turned, he thought, she would be scandalized.

Louis said, “So. What are we going to do?”

Her eyes furrowed, and behind those pupils he could see the great steam engine going. “You tell me.”

He had been ignoring his drink. He picked it up, swilled it around. Put it down again. This wasn’t the time. “I know what I’m going to do. My question for you is how willing you are to help.”

The engineer laughed. Her throat was gummed, and hoarse, so it sounded hacking, but hearing her laugh was oddly nice. “Washington, I don’t know how long you’ve been doing this.”

“Ms. Green, I–”

“It’s Millicent. Do you know the story of the Sontag brothers? He robbed these lines, some twenty years back. Back when it was still the wild west?”

Louis shook his head.

“Sontag was a train robber. Back when you could get away with a horse and a stick of dynamite. But the reason he ever did that is because a Southern Pacific Railway car chewed up his leg and didn’t have the decency to chew up the rest of him. They say we lost as many as coal miners, those days, and I believe them. You may not remember that, but we do. The brotherhoods do.“

She paused, as if avoiding the follow-through. “So… are you willing to help me?”

“We can’t protect each other, Ms— Millicent. Do you understand that? If one of us gets tied up with this, we were the only one. It doesn’t matter who gets caught. It looks worse if both of us were involved in this.”

“Why wouldn’t people assume we were working together?”

Louis felt something strange, like someone was looming behind him. A grim inevitability was pulling him along. Nerves, he thought.

“You disagree with the new labor law. You’ve stopped the train to try and extort me. Convince me to stop it from passing. I don’t know, you make it work. You like your long hours, you like the pay, and you’re not really that into the brotherhood.

“You flagged me down here to make your demands. At midnight, you say, we’ll meet in my room to talk about the labor law. I’ll bring my papers from the cargo car. We argue for nearly an hour. Loud enough that our neighbors can hear us, even. By tomorrow morning, the train won’t even be started again, because I refuse to give into your demands.”

She just kept looking at him, the meal forgotten. The moon was bright and low behind her, like a halo.

“I can’t protect you. You can’t protect me. But we can make it so Adamson won’t take the fall for this, if you play along enough.”

“I’m not like you, Washington. I can’t lie.”

“You don’t have to lie. No more than you already have, I suppose, about why the train has stopped.”

“What about the inspector in Standard?”

“Him?” Louis laughed. “Do you know the success rates of those amateur sleuths? Besides, he has no legal authority on this train. He’s not a member of the police. If he asks you a question, you can simply refuse to tell him a thing.”

She went silent again. What a mind she must have, he thought through a drink, attuned to this great monster of a machine, hauling it out into the distant west. Grimy old woman.

“How about this. You gotta do it. I’m not the kind of person who can do that. I’ll be there, at midnight. But if you’re going to hang me out to dry and pin the murder on me, just don’t… implicate anyone else. Yeah? I was the only one. Nobody else.”

“I’m not going to tell anyone that.”

“I don’t care about you. But it was just me, yes? Just old Millicent, gone mad.”

He nodded. “I agree. And one more thing: I’ll need your key.”

“My key?”

“The master key. In case I need to unlock her door. We can swap them back in my room.”

Millicent considered that, then hooked the key out from around her neck, and pulled it up and over her hair. Folded it up in a napkin and slid it across the table. Louis retrieved his room key from his pocket and did the same.

“You’ve got a motive, you know. The inspector might notice that.”

“Millicent… every single one of us has motive to kill dozens of fellows throughout our lives. There’s an old saying I heard once. Suspecting a man of murder because he has a motive is like suspecting a man of running away with another man’s wife because he has two legs.”

He took the opportunity to drink. Ms Green stared at him through the glass.

“I think you could come up with a good motive for every person on this train. Us two are obvious, yes. But what about the doctor? Surely men equipped in preserving life are just as equipped to take them. Or that train attendant that our friend is so endeared with. Everyone knows a jilted lover, turned to revenge. Or perhaps a member of this train was wrongly prosecuted in one of her past cases. Take your pick.”

“At least you’re good at stories.”

Louis sighed, and tried to drink again. His glass was empty now. “I’m a politician, my dear. It’s what we do.”


The rest of the evening came as naturally as falling. Louis saw Millicent only once, as he was passing through the crew car, but she pretended not to notice him. Rightly so, in hindsight.

There was another person in the cargo car, too; that doctor, Lynette’s supposed colleague. He had never met the man. Doctor Wong came from that part of Lynette’s life that he had refused to be privy to, and that even now he only touched in passing. The doctor seemed curious about what Louis was doing; he made sure to mention the labor law, and pull out his paper drafts. That compulsive workaholic streak in him had finally paid dues. And, when Doctor Wong was compelled to turn away, meticulously checking over his scalpels, Louis slipped the pocket knife out of his luggage and into his jacket pocket.

He gathered up the rest of his papers, arranged them neatly into a small folder, and bid good-night to the doctor. Millicent was gone when he passed again through the crew car; he supposed she was already waiting for him in his room, providing his alibi.

The standard cars were deserted, as Louis assumed. Everyone would still be dining, or would have retired for the night. He would still need to be careful. This would all be for naught if someone saw him pass in and out of the cabin.

The train was still unmoving; yet he had become so acquainted with the gentle sway of the carriages that its lack of motion made him tilt from side to side. He took up a hand and braced himself against the wall, standing there in the hallway, thinking. Thinking about scalpels.

There was that inevitability again. He checked the time, and couldn’t help but smile at the perfect absurdity. The stars move still, he thought. Time runs. The clock will strike.

Louis took out his key and opened the door to cabin 14C.


After it was done, Louis remembered to breathe. A small movement of air came through the window that Lynette had left open. Small flecks of snow drifted down through the raised window, and he caught one in his red gloved palm.

Ah. He carefully removed his gloves, wiped off his pocket knife, and threw the gloves as hard as he could into the forest. They disappeared between the trees.

Briefly, he considered doing the same with the key. Perhaps it would muddy the waters further. Anyone could have stolen her key, after all.

And what to do with her walking stick? No, best to leave that.

Louis thought about saying something, marking the occasion. A final goodbye, perhaps. He decided against it. He would find no solace here, in this cold and empty room.

When he left, the window was closed, and the door was locked behind him.


What is this?

teammate Presents: The Mystery of Cabin 14C was a puzzle released as part of the puzzlehunt Admiral Boötes’ Cosmic Discovery Expedition: Further Galaxies by teammate. It’s a classic locked-room mystery, presented in the style of a novel from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. The puzzle has a solution; that solution is self-consistent, and fits all the evidence.

This work of fanfiction presents another alternate solution that is also self-consistent, and fits all the evidence. While that solution is not a valid answer for the specific puzzle (it involves two people collaborating, which is explicitly against the rules the story follows), it is a strong explanation for what happened on the Overland Limited, and resolves some issues with the original solution. (While introducing some new, exciting issues of its own.) This is a reconstruction of events using witness accounts, given facts, and known contemporary events from in-story context clues. Some artistic license is taken, but this version should be entirely consistent with the original story.

This story claims that the murder takes place in 1916. Does this fit the original story?

The original story clearly takes place before or during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, although we can make some definite claims about when it didn’t take place. Multiple characters mention ordering and drinking alcoholic beverages, which means that the story could not have taken place during the Prohibition Era (January 1919 to December 1933).

Additionally, very little mention is made of any sort of economic hardship; all the characters in the story are comfortable with making a transcontinental train ride while ordering expensive cocktails. Based on the economic state of the country during this period, the mention of Louis’ labor law, and the history of transcontinental rail in general, it’s extremely likely that the story took place at some point before America’s entry into the First World War in early 1917.

In this version, the murder specifically took place some time in late August 1916. Since the first S.S. Van Dine detective novel was released in 1926, this story would have been considered somewhat of a period piece.

UPDATE: after talking with the original author of the puzzle, the intent was for the story to take place in the 1950s. As he puts it, “it totally works in the 1910s as well”. I’ll take it!

Is the labor law stuff real? Would Millicent have known about it?

Yes, the Adamson Act was a real labor law proposed and passed in late 1916 that affected interstate railroad workers; and yes, it really did shape the history of rail transportation in America.

As a train engineer, Millicent had no reason to try and stop the labor law. Indeed, she was the sort of person who stood directly to gain from the kind of law that Louis was trying to pass. As a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (renamed in 2004 as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen), it’s very plausible that someone like Millicent would have known about the Adamson Act and would have strong motivations to ensure its passing. If Millicent was over the age of 40 or so, she also would have been around for an earlier, bloodier chapter in American rail transportation history, when the rate of fatalities of railroad workers was second only to those of coal miners.

The relationship between rail companies and workers is still a recent issue. In an age where the rights of rail workers are still in question, I think it’s important to understand the real history.

What rail line are they traveling on?

We know that the destination of this train journey is San Francisco, which is a pretty clear reference to the first transcontinental railroad. For that reason, I’ve chosen to set this version of events on the Overland Route, which would have been operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad along this stretch.

Louis mentions in the original story that he’s coming from D.C. This is definitely plausible, and would have been since the late 19th century; he would’ve simply had to change trains at a few points, such as Ogden, UT, and Omaha, NE.

It’s snowing. Doesn’t that mean it’s winter, not summer?

At its highest point, the Overland Route reaches an elevation of over 7000 feet (2-ish km) in this section. Donner Pass is also one of the snowiest places in the contiguous 48 states. It would certainly get very cold. At night, in late summer, it’s unlikely that it would snow to this extent (and a depth of four feet is certainly near impossible), but some unusually adverse weather might be enough for Millicent to get away with stopping the train. If you’d like, you can pretend the Inspector is exaggerating for his own gain when he mentions “four feet of snow”.

It’s much more likely that this story is supposed to take place much earlier in the year (e.g. before April) or later (after October); but given the timing of the Adamson Act, I chose to date this in August for maximum dramatic effect in exchange for a bit of climate accuracy.

Isn’t Lynette’s key missing?

The official solution claims that Thomas was let in by Lynette, and then stole her key and locked the door behind him after he performed the murder. This would mean that Lynette no longer would have her key on her. But the story makes no note of whether or not her key is missing:

The victim’s belongings weren’t present either - perhaps they were in the cargo car at the rear of the train.

I opened up the victim’s purse. The only thing in there of note was a small wallet, with an ID.

Given the killer’s access to the room is an open question in the original story, and given that a key being missing would be an important piece of evidence to solve the mystery if it were gone, it’s fair to claim that the key is present among her belongings here as someone “not of note”.

It would also be perfectly reasonable for Louis to dispose of the key, as he considers doing in this story, to obfuscate matters further.

Does Louis’ and Millicent’s motivations for killing Lynette in this story make sense?

This is the big advantage that the ‘Thomas solution’ has over the ‘Louis and Millicent solution’. While Doctor Wong has a convincing motive to kill her and access to the correct kind of weapon, Mr Washington and Ms Green lack such a solid reason. Unfortunately, their actions throughout the evening more than speak for themselves. I have therefore striven to construct a reasonably plausible motivation for both of them to act as they did, which the original solution to the puzzle doesn’t fully account for.

Can a pocket knife make a “single, clean, precise” cut?

It’s pretty easy to cut someone’s throat. (Sawing through muscle is a little different, but it’s difficult with a scalpel as well.) If the killer was careful, and hit the carotid artery, Lynette would have entered hypovolemic shock and bled out.

Pocket knives can be very sharp. If the victim was unconscious and not struggling, it would have been reasonable to slit her throat cleanly even without proper medical tools by making a calm, precise incision. This incision wouldn’t necessarily have needed to be deep; neither a pocket knife nor a scalpel would have given a great amount of depth, anyway.

The Inspector claimed that the killer lied about something in their testimony. What did Louis lie about?

“There were not,” Louis continued. “I returned to my room in standard class at 10 PM to work. Afterwards, at 11 PM, I went to the cargo car to retrieve some belongings of mine.”

“What belongings?” I asked.

“They are unimportant,” replied Louis. “At least to the murder at hand.”

Of course, in this version of the story, the Inspector is also wrong about a lot of things.

Where is Mr. Washington’s “saying” from?

Louis is quoting the following passage from the S.S. Van Dine book The Benson Murder Case, which was first published about ten years later:

“Naturally,” Vance replied, “—since it’s an irrelevant factor in most crimes. Every one of us, my dear chap, has just as good a motive for killing at least a score of men as the motives which actuate ninety-nine crimes out of a hundred. And, when anyone is murdered, there are dozens of innocent people who had just as strong a motive for doing it as had the actual murderer. Really, y’ know, the fact that a man has a motive is no evidence whatever that he’s guilty—such motives are too universal a possession of the human race. Suspecting a man of murder because he has a motive is like suspecting a man of running away with another man’s wife because he has two legs.”

Are there any other historical inaccuracies in these stories?

Oh, loads. Most of them are introduced by trying to map the original story onto a set of real circumstances.

Obviously, the lawsuit over Southern Pacific Transportation Company was completely invented; there was no such lawsuit of any kind. The railway companies were much too powerful to get tangled up with that sort of thing.

(Some incidental details are true. At this time, the headquarters of Southern Pacific really were in the same building as a Pinkerton office.)

The Overland Limited is also inaccurately laid out based on what’s said in the story. The Overland would have had a general seating area, like a ‘normal’ train, for passengers who weren’t going the full distance. Depending on when one traveled, there would also have been a club lounge, Buffet Car, library, ‘Smoking Parlor’, and a barber. There probably wouldn’t have been a bar (although I’m not sure about that); and the sleeping cars most likely won’t have been split into First and Second Class.

Beyond that, though, everything else is as accurate as I could get it.

Who had lunch with Lynette?

While the puzzle’s solution can be worked out by assuming that there is no unused information, the story itself is inconclusive without that imposed restriction. Jack, Thomas, and Louis all reasonably could have had lunch with Lynette the day before she died. This story proceeds the same regardless of who joined Lynette for her last meal.

Your name is Terminal. Are you a rail transportation fan or something?

I have exceedingly little interest in rail in general, beyond enjoying the experience of an excellent train ride. I am, however, interested in history in general. The name thing is a coincidence.