Home » Book Review » Dead Man’s Folly

Dead Man’s Folly


by Agatha Christie

Published 1956

This Poirot novel reintroduces one of my favorite Christie characters, Ariadne Oliver.  Setting aside the fact that I am completely unsure how to pronounce, and can never remember how to spell, Ariadne, this character is delightful to me.  I love her dialogue, her happy personality, her exasperation with fame and her fictional Finnish detective, her love of apples, and her tongue-in-cheek autobiographical references to Christie herself.

In Dead Man’s Folly, Mrs. Oliver is one of the focal points.  She has organized a mystery hunt for a local fete, creating the story for the hunt herself.  Poirot marvels at her ingenuity.  I love this bit of dialogue, wherein she is attempting to explain the hunt’s story to Poirot–

As she spoke the boathouse came into view.  It jutted out onto the river and was a picturesque thatched affair.

“That’s where the Body’s going to be,” said Mrs. Oliver.  “The body for the Murder Hunt, I mean.”

“And who is going to be killed?”

“Oh–a girl hiker, who is really the Yogoslavian first wife of a young Atom Scientist,” said Mrs. Oliver glibly.

Poirot blinked.

“Of course, it looks as though the Atom Scientist had killed–but naturally it’s not as simple as that.”

“Naturally not–since you are concerned–”

Mrs. Oliver accepted the compliment with a wave of the hand.

“Actually,” she said, “she’s killed by the Country Squire–and the motive is rather ingenious–I don’t believe many people will get it–though there’s a perfectly clear pointer in the fifth clue.”

“Your ingenuity leaves me spellbound!  The things you think of!”

“It’s never difficult to think of things,” said Mrs. Oliver.  “The trouble is that you think of too many, and then it all becomes too complicated, so you have to relinquish some of them and that is rather agony.”

Anyway.  So there is a murder and things proceed as they normally do in a mystery novel.  For me, as I was saying in my last review of a Christie book (Hickory, Dickory Death), there is just too much going on, and not enough of it seems realistic.  In this book, the story felt choppy and characters rather flat.  I didn’t feel much sympathy or interest in any of them (except for Mrs. Oliver, of course), and the ending seemed a bit of a stretch.

So while it was a perfectly enjoyable read, it wasn’t a particular favorite, making this a 3/5.

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