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Dead Man's Folly
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot buddy read 33: SPOILER thread for Dead Man's Folly

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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9072 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for Dead Man's Folly - feel free to share your spoilers here!


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 776 comments Writing about the TV adaptation with David Suchet, which I watched immediately after listening to the audio book, I felt that the change from post Second World War to the 1930s didn't really work very well.

The deaths of the two sons made a lot more sense in WW2, the hikers looked out of place in the earlier period, and the cousin - well, I don't think the casting was right, although in line with modern views on castings, since Mrs Folliat makes it quite plain that Hattie, despite being born in the West Indies, is pure European. And the other characters don't seem to notice his colour, or remark on it in connection with Hattie, which would be odd enough in the 1940/50s and very strange in the 1930s.


Tracey | 254 comments The solution to this made me kick myself. I guessed Hattie was an imposter (too much emphasis on the cousin being fake), and knew Mrs Folliat and the hitchhiker were key to solving it. But just couldn't quite pull the threads all together!

I had to laugh at the section of Poirot's rage at having to carry the prize doll. I will seek out the TV adaption, and hope this made it to the cut.

And it was heartwarming to hear Poirot reflect on Hastings, who he hasn't seen for "many, many years".


message 4: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin To change the period from post WW11 to the 1930s sounds utterly mad to me. But then, I have never been a fan of the television series, so might be prejudiced. However, let's look at one of the really important features in this novel. That is, the influx of overseas travellers in Britain. We saw foreigners as important characters in Hickory, Dickory, Dock, not only as students, but as young people who used rucksacks to travel around Britain (as we l as for more nefarious reasons). Now we have a youth hostel , with its continually changing occupants. A rucksack also features as a clue - because of the absence of the clue referring to one (which should have been on the comics to be read by the victim, and the successful murder hunt challenger). Christie is really interested in opening out her locale for murder to a wider scene than the familiar large house/middle class personnel of her earlier novels.

The descriptions of Hattie lay such an emphasis on her white powdered face, as well as her screening 'coolie' hat style. Whitening the face is such a racist activity imposed by a white community. I wonder how much Sir George Stubbs was complicit in this, from a racist as well as covering up perspective. not only did he , and his mother, deprive the real Hattie of her fortune, but imposed upon her memory a white anglo-saxon image. A truly reprehensible couple in my view. I wonder why the seeming sympathy with Mrs Folliat?


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 776 comments Robin wrote: "The descriptions of Hattie lay such an emphasis on her white powdered face, as well as her screening 'coolie' hat style. Whitening the face is such a racist activity imposed by a white community."

The 'Hattie' who is whitening her face is however Italian, from Trieste, and may be doing so to look more like the very-European Hattie, and to make her less recognisable when she becomes the hostelling Italian, rather than trying to impose an Anglo-Saxon look.

I agree that Mrs Folliat's behaviour is reprehensible.


message 6: by Robin (last edited Aug 04, 2020 03:08AM) (new) - added it

Robin Rosina wrote: "Robin wrote: "The descriptions of Hattie lay such an emphasis on her white powdered face, as well as her screening 'coolie' hat style. Whitening the face is such a racist activity imposed by a whit..."

I think that Hattie is from the' West Indies' as early in the novel her 'island estates' are mentioned. Her cousin who arrives in a splendid yacht, a clue which Poirot picks up on later, sounds non European in description (he is a 'dark young man'), demeanour and language. I wonder why Poirot didn't think about the reference to Hattie being accustomed to servants earlier in the novel (and the reference to estates).

I realise that the Italian woman is pretending to be Hattie, but the skin colour might not be particularly different. The real Hattie would not be pale if she comes from the islands?

My concern is with the duplicity and wickedness (I don't think that this is too strong a word) for the behaviour of Mrs Folliatt and her son. Not only do they take Hattie's fortune from her, but her nationality and culture, by implication, if not reality as she is already dead. Whitening products were used very heavily in the southern states of America from early on and would have been in use in this period, there certainly, and perhaps to cover up Hattie's background from the islands referred to. I think that it might have been expected that her face would have been made up to more closely represent an English appearance. This was possibly the case for the Italian woman as well.


Indeneri | 32 comments As usual, I seem to be the only one that didn't pick up on any clues! I really didnt' see it coming at all. Still I was enjoying it until it ended a bit abruptly I thought.

Poor Hattie never stood a chance. She only had Mrs Folliat to turn to, and she let her be robbed and murdered.

The description of Hattie reminded me so much of Bertha, from Jane Eyre. Both from women from the West Indies, both with money that the husband took control of, both supposed to have mental deficiency. And a distant relative turns up at an inopportune moment to ruin things for the husband.

"...I believe she comes from the West Indies. One of those islands with sugar and rum and all that. One of the old families there—a creole, ... Accounts for the mental deficiency.”


De Souza seems to have made a lucky escape. He has no idea he was being set up to take the blame for a crime.

When I read that 'there would alway s be a Folliat at Nasse' I thought that George Stubbs was an illegitamate son of either Mr or Mrs Folliat.

I wonder if the police will find Stubbs and his wife, or if they'll disappear again?


message 8: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Indeneri wrote: "As usual, I seem to be the only one that didn't pick up on any clues! I really didnt' see it coming at all. Still I was enjoying it until it ended a bit abruptly I thought.

Poor Hattie never stoo..."


You are so right about the similarities with Bertha. I think that there is so much more than the murder to look at in this novel. Of course , the murder is where we should concentrate - but i love these asides, and yours has been really perceptive. Thank you for referring to West Indies, I had it wrong but have now corrected it.


Indeneri | 32 comments Robin wrote: "Indeneri wrote: "As usual, I seem to be the only one that didn't pick up on any clues! I really didnt' see it coming at all. Still I was enjoying it until it ended a bit abruptly I thought.

Poor ..."


Thanks Robin. There's a lot of details in the book that can be red herrings or clues!


message 10: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Indeneri wrote: "Robin wrote: "Indeneri wrote: "As usual, I seem to be the only one that didn't pick up on any clues! I really didnt' see it coming at all. Still I was enjoying it until it ended a bit abruptly I th..."
i dont know if you have read the comment in the non-spoiler thread which refers to Christie's Notebooks. I'm going to reread them in relation to this novel, as there might be some clues to her thinking here.


Tara  | 812 comments I have never quite understood the return of a person that people knew from years before, that somehow are now unrecognizable. Does this kind of thing really happen? Besides major physical transformations (such as significant weight loss or extensive plastic surgery), generally you can tell its the same person, despite superficial changes. I think it was elements like this, jammed in towards the end of the book, that caused me not to like this one as much as others.


message 12: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Tara wrote: "I have never quite understood the return of a person that people knew from years before, that somehow are now unrecognizable. Does this kind of thing really happen? Besides major physical transform..."

I find it a device that is somewhat well worn in Christie novels. However, in this one, there was concern about the cousin being able to recognise that the woman pretending to be Hattie is not her.

In The Man in the Brown Suit Christie acknowledges that recognition through head shape is a high possibility.

In the television program The Americans the characters adopt disguises. As spies they would be expected to ensure that they are not recognisable and this seems to work, so possibly it can be done?


message 13: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2094 comments I thought Hattie was false and even though everyone seemed to think she was mentally retarded, I very much doubted it.


message 14: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Yes, indeed. And what better than to be able to lie around admiring a ring rather than working! What a role - although struggling up a hill with a rucksack might not be so pleasant.


Indeneri | 32 comments Robin wrote: "Tara wrote: "I have never quite understood the return of a person that people knew from years before, that somehow are now unrecognizable. Does this kind of thing really happen? Besides major physi..."

We are told that Sir George was not identified by anyone because they hadn't seen him for around 20 years, while Hattie's separation from her cousin was much shorter, thus the risk of him finding out it wasn't her.

I think most of us would be hard pressed to connect a middle aged person with their teenage self. I met a cousin of mine after 22 years, and he walked right past me. I recognized him but he didn't recognize me. Perhaps our faces all age differently?


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 776 comments I was on a bus in Westminster, aged in my mid-50s, and was recognised by a girl I had been at school with - not even in the same class. I found it very odd, and still cannot see how she did it.

Wasn't there a suggestion (at least) that the boatman did recognise 'Sir George' even before he was murdered, and kept quiet, either out of curiosity, or feudal feeling?


message 17: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2094 comments Yes The boatman told at least one person (it could have been two) that there would always be a Folliat at the house but he would never explain why.


Frances (francesab) | 389 comments I don't think the Mrs Folliat character rang true-she was apparently mostly fine with Hattie having been murdered and buried, she seemed to have a good relationship with the current "Hattie" -in which case why the sudden transformation at the end to a remorseful frail old woman? Was that just realizing her son would be charged with murder? It didn't make sense to me.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 776 comments Frances wrote: "I don't think the Mrs Folliat character rang true-she was apparently mostly fine with Hattie having been murdered and buried, she seemed to have a good relationship with the current "Hattie" -in wh..."

I agree - there wasn't enough explanation of how she had so easily accepted her son murdering the girl she had cared for. If there was bad blood in the Folliat family, I suspect it came from her.


Bicky | 332 comments It might be difficult to recognize someone after 20 years, but it is one hell of a risk! Especially as there are always people who are good at recognizing people after a long gap. For example but not limited to - schoolteachers. In a village, only one person could make out that this was a Folliat?

In general, this is too complicated and implausible a plot.

But the first half was great fun. Christie has the gift of writing light hearted scenes, descriptions and characters which have not aged badly. That is probably why she remains one of the most readable writers - GA or otherwise.

Of course, this is not always true. Thus, when Christie descends to writing slang, especially as used by young people, the writing appears to be badly dated.


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