If it's murders, detectives, clues and a whole cast of stereotypical English characters then "Dead Man's Folly" is as a fine example of an Agatha Christie novel as you could wish for. Mrs Ariadne Oliver, that well known writer of detective fiction is organising a "Murder Hunt" for the summer fete of her current hosts, Sir George and Lady Hattie Stubbs. Sir George is a self-made man of newly obtained wealth and has set himself up in the English country seat of Nasse House in Devon. He is welcomed into country life especially by Mrs Folliat, the previous owner and lady of the manor, who now having fallen on tougher times is living in the lodge of the manor. The Murder Hunt Mrs Oliver has devised is a devilish set of clues which should lead the would be detectives to the boat house on the estate where 14 year old girl guide Marlene Tucker has been designated as "the body." However Mrs Oliver senses an air of misfortune around the house and summons her old friend M. Hercule Poirot to come down to the house and see if he can understand the forces at work. All seems to be going fine at the fete until Mrs Oliver and M. Poirot discover that Marlene Tucker's impression of a dead person is all too realistic and the poor girl has been strangled. To add to the woes of the country party, soon after this discovery Lady Hattie goes missing with only her hat found in the fast running waters of the river. Like most Christie novels this features an array of typical characters and a typical array of red herrings, false leads and real clues. The final solution is pretty well contrived and as with many a Christie book you do feel that the plausibility of the plot is questionable. There are some great un-PC descriptions, especially of Lady Hattie who is not too bright. The depictions of the foreign backpackers who trespass on Sir George's property are likewise fun to read in this day and age. Ariadne Oliver is also an excellent character to read about and she's always a great addition to the story. Unusually for a Christie the murder victim her is "a complete innocent" i.e. not a character directly connected with the subjects of the plot. In this sense the book has a poignancy that isn't normally found in a Christie book. That said, the scene where Marlene's mother is interviewed by Poirot shortly after her death shows that sorrow and sympathy were feelings that Christie didn't normally write about.
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