"There would always be Folliats at Nasse House”
Our second Installment of the Summer of Christie Read-Along features Dead Man’s Folly. Those who tuned in last night to the PBS premiere of Dead Man’s Folly, starring the acclaimed David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, watched a delightful tale of murder, deceit, and duplicitous characters set against the stunning backdrop of the English countryside (plus some fabulous costumes).
Join me below as I discuss key plot twists and some of the differences in the TV version from the classic Agatha Christie novel; spoiler alert for both versions.
Brief plot outline: Sir George and Lady Stubbs hit upon the novel idea of staging a mock murder mystery for a village fete. Well-known crime writer Ariadne Oliver is invited to organize their murder hunt and she soon senses something sinister is about to happen. She calls in Hercule Poirot to serve as watcher and witness. Soon enough, a village girl is found dead and Lady Stubbs has vanished. Our usual quick-witted Poirot is stumped and blames himself for not being able to prevent such devastating occurrences. As the local police and Poirot are left investigating dead-ends, we soon learn not everyone is who they say to be and sometimes—in the case of a missing wife— it is always the husband. Sir George is revealed to be the original heir to Nasse, long-presumed dead, and Lady Stubbs is an imposter.
TV review: Right from the beginning there was a bit of deviance in the TV version from the book, but as the episode unfolded, it became clear there was only so much detail allowed in an hour and a half, and some of the deeper character storylines had to be either hinted at or summarized to keep the mystery moving along. The vivid Murder Hunt “Fete” was wonderfully brought to life on the Nasse estate and the beautiful grounds were a visual feast, though I personally expected the Folly to be grander.
Character casting was spot-on for the most part and I enjoyed see Ariadne Oliver, Mrs. Folliat, Lady Stubbs, and architect Michael Weyman brought to life. (I was a little put off by a beardless Sir George Stubbs, as that was a key part of his deception in the book).
Discussion: Some of the below questions relate to the differences between the book and TV versions, sorry to those who didn’t catch the premiere.
- Both Ariadne and Mrs. Folliat hint to Poirot of an evil lurking at Nasse House. Why do you think Poirot cared to listen to the warnings, instead of chalking it up to empty suspicions?
- Throughout Poirot’s investigation he was so close to uncovering the truth. What were some of the clues he couldn’t decipher along the way?
- The Chief Constable, Inspector Bland and Ariadne all doubted if Poirot could solve this mystery towards the end. Do you think Poirot himself was starting to give up?
- Do you think Mrs. Folliat should be held legally accountable for her son’s actions? Does her lack of action make her guilty?
- In the book, Sir George (a.k.a. James Folliat) was not overly painted as an evil, murderous person; however, in the TV episode his sinister traits were apparent towards the end. Do you think Sir George was inherently capable of performing multiple murders? Or, do you think he was caught in a spiral of deceit that he would stop at nothing to protect?
- Lady Stubbs was described as “subhuman” from the beginning. Did you suspect her of being anything but what she claimed to be?
- Supporting character development played a big role in the novel and was only touched upon in the TV version. Do you think the relationship between architect Michael and Mr. and Mrs. Legge was pivotal to the plot or served as background filler?
- There were some major plot differences between the TV rendering and Christie’s book. What were they? How did you feel about them?
Please include a link to your answers in the comments below!
Thanks to all who tweeted while watching last night, I loved discussing in real-time with you! We’re getting closer to the release of The Monogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot mystery by international bestselling author Sophie Hannah, so we’ll be discussing her favorite Poirot mystery, After the Funeral, on September 2nd. Be sure to pick up the new edition featuring a foreword by Sophie. And don’t forget to pre-order The Monogram Murders!