4 March 2013

Review: DEAD MAN'S FOLLY, Agatha Christie

  • First published in 1956
  • This edition: part of the Agatha Christie Collection acquired in 2012
  • ISSN 1473-0022
  • 187 pages
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (Agatha Christie site)

Sir George and Lady Stubbs, the hosts of a village fete, hit upon the novel idea of staging a mock murder mystery.
In good faith, Ariadne Oliver, the well known crime writer, agrees to organise the murder hunt. Despite weeks of meticulous planning, at the last minute Ariadne calls her friend Hercule Poirot for his expert assistance. Instinctively, she senses that something sinister is about to happen...
Ariadne Oliver plays a central part in this novel, with many seeing her as Christie's alter-ego. Indeed the house that the novel is set at was based on her own home, Greenway.

My Take

This is an interesting novel because the solution to the murder eludes Hercule Poirot until he realises while doing a jigsaw puzzle that he has been looking at some information he has had all along the wrong way around.

It is one of those stories where you keep thinking of the title because the obvious murder victim is female, so who or what is the "dead mans folly"?  There is a folly, a building placed on the estate by Sir George Stubbs soon after he arrived, or is Lady Stubbs, supposedly a little intellectually wanting, the folly?

Ariadne Oliver's mock murder mystery backfires when the Girl Guide who was to pose as the murder victim is actually strangled. Hercule Poirot is on the spot because Mrs Oliver was already uncomfortable with how things were going. She had the feeling of being manouvred and called her friend on the day before the fete to see what he thought.

There is not a lot of social or historical comment in DEAD MAN'S FOLLY. We know it is set post World War Two, because the original owners of the house, the Folliats, lost both their sons in the war.
Sir George Stubbs came along at the right time as the buyer of the house as old Mrs Folliat found herself unable to pay the death duties incurred by the death of her husband and two sons. The villagers had assumed it was destined to become a school or a hotel.
Sir George Stubbs appears to have "new money" which he is spending extravagantly on ventures like the folly and a tennis pavilion.The house is next door to a back packer's hostel, with European young people staying there. And another of the characters is an "atom scientist".
All of these items serve to place the novel in the early 1950s,

I found the final explanation a bit extravagant but it worked well enough.There are certainly clues along the way that the reader tends to gloss over.

My rating: 4.1

Read as novel #49 for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.


Irene said...

this is one I have not read, but soon. Thanks for your review.

Clothes In Books said...

I like this one, though there is one aspect of the solution (regarding impersonation) that seems completely unbelievable! But the setting is great - having visited Agatha Christie's holiday home, Greenway, where it is plainly set, I enjoy seeing the boathouse, the ferry, the path in my mind's eye...

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - One of my favourite characters - Amy Folliat - shines in this novel. I agree with Moira about the impersonation aspect, and there are a few other things that are less than Christie's best, but the setting is terrific. And I do think the Murder Hunt setup is clever.

Ryan said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

carol said...

I don't remember reading this one. I do enjoy Poirot though.


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