“Dead Man’s Folly” featuring Hercule Poirot was first published in 1956 and is a typical Agatha Christie work with a web of mystery involving death of a young girl scout and disappearance of a pretty and silly wife of a wealthy country esquire.
The novel opens with Poirot receiving a call from the famous detective novelist Ariadne Oliver to join her at a country house where she is staging a murder hunt (like a treasure hunt) as a part of a fete. Though feeling that he might be wasting his time, Poirot does go to Nasse House, Devon. On his way, Poirot gives lift to two female back-packers – one dutch, one italian- staying at the youth hostel near the Nasse House and learns from the driver about the continuous tresspassing by the backpackers on the land belonging to Sir George Stubbs, master of the Nasse House.
On meeting Ariadne, he learns the reason why she has called him. Her intuition is telling her that the staged murder hunt is going to result into actual murder of someone. Next we meet the characters present in the house with Poirot: Sir George, his young and naïve wife Hattie, His efficient secretary Amanada Brewis, the original owner of Nasse House and Hattie’s guardian Amy Folliat, architech Michael Weyman and a couple named Legges.
On the morning of the fete, Hattie receives a letter from her cousin Etienne De Sousa, who is coming to visit her. She is disturbed by it and Poirot observes that she appears to be afraid of her cousin. Poirot notes that Hattie’s behavior is curious, i.e. though she is generally described as someone scatterbrained, there are instances when she appears quite shrewd and calculating. The fete starts and is in full swing when Ms. Oliver and Poirot together visits the last stage of the murder hunt only to discover the dead body of a girl called Merlene Tucker who was assigned to play the corpse. The girl is actually killed.
In addition to this, Hattie Stubbs goes missing from the fete. The first suspect for Hattie’s disappearance is Etienne de sousa. Police searches his yachts, detains him, but no avail. Weeks pass, but the mystery remains unsolved. Hattie’s body is never found. Though police believes that Merlene was killed because she witnessed something related to Hattie’s disappearance, no clue regarding this is ever found. To add to the mystery, there is a side-track of Legges being a scientist and having secret meetings with foreign spies.
Poirot leaves the village but his mind is occupied with the mystery. And when he learns that yet another death has taken place which is passed off as a suicide, he visits the village once more. And during this trip, truth comes to him through his meetings with Merlene’s family and Emy Folliat. The “Folly”, one of the most conspicuous part of the estate, does house some secret. To know the secret, make this journey of Nasse House with Hercule Poirot. Enjoy reading….