Author: Agatha Christie
Finished on: 23 February 2020
Where did I get this book: Bought from Christie’s summer home, Greenway
In February, we went on a visit to Greenway, the beautiful house in Devon that Agatha Christie shared with her archaeologist second husband, Max Mallowan.
I felt like I was going to visit an old friend. It was brilliant, a perfect ‘on brand’ combination of the comfortable and the sinister in a gorgeous setting on the bank of the River Dart.
Christie used elements of the house in several of her books, most notably here in Dead Man’s Folly where it is reimagined as Nasse House, scene of a village fête with a twist. Not content with a treasure hunt, the local residents have roped in crime writer Ariadne Oliver, supposedly a self-portrait of Christie herself, to create a murder hunt, complete with local girl posing as a corpse.
It’s easy to guess how the murder hunt ends; less easy to guess where it all goes from there. Luckily Ariadne had sensed something troubling in the atmosphere at Nasse House and had the foresight to summon her friend, a certain moustachioed Belgian detective, to join her at the fête.
This isn’t the finest of Christie’s plots but, let’s face it, that’s like saying this isn’t the finest Kurt Russell film – yes, some are better than others, but they’re all brilliant.*
It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of one of my heroes, see the books she read, the things she surrounded herself with and the places that inspired her. The best thing about reading Dead Man’s Folly was the insight into the way she translated her real home and its garden and boat house, into the locations for the story.
It would be even better to read the book and then visit the house, I reckon. So, read this now and then plan yourself a lovely trip down to Devon for when we’re all allowed to leave the house again. Comfort reading and comfort holiday planning all in one – just the ticket at the moment.
*Whoops – forgot about that rubbish Quentin Tarantino one he’s in. But he’s still the best thing in it, for sure.