Hercule Poirot comes to the rescue of Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, the famous mystery writer and alter-ego of Agatha Christie, when she notices strange details that make her fear a murder in the offing in Dead Man’s Folly. Mrs. Oliver has been hired by Sir George Stubbs to create a “murder hunt” in place of their usual treasure hunt at the annual local fete. But finding herself jockeyed into making certain changes leaves her uneasy, so she gets Poirot to join her at the Nass Hall, ostensibly to give out the awards for the winners of the murder hunt. But when the murder does happen, neither she nor he is prepared for it.
The young teen girl who has been selected to play the part of the corpse in the murder hunt is found actually killed in the same manner as her performed role, strangled in the boathouse. And Hattie Stubbs, the gorgeous, somewhat mentally disabled wife of Sir George, has disappeared. Could one of the foreign students from the youth hostel next door be responsible? Or what about Etienne de Susa, Hetty’s cousin who comes in a yacht about the same time people start to look for Hetty? And why would anyone want to kill this seemingly innocuous child?
This book contains a pun in its name, with the word folly referring both to human error and to the neo-classical structure erected by Sir George in the forest, where several characters are seen to have assignations.
David Suchet, who plays Poirot in the BBC adaptations of the books, reads the book and gives a great performance, including the accents of the students from various countries who stay at the youth hostel.
Dead Man’s Folly starts off with a fun touch as we enjoy the always-clever Mrs. Oliver and her interactions with Hercule Poirot. The various people who live at or near Nass Hall and participate in the fete come to life and are generally entertaining. But then the book takes a negative turn, more so than most Poirot novels, in looking into the depths of the evil found in human nature. I give it four stars.
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