Who is the killer? Who is Evans and why didn’t they ask them? Plus the victims, and the ending — and a little on differences between book and mini-series. (if you’re looking for my review it’s here. There are also comprehensive re-caps for episode 1, episodes 2 and episode 3 if you’ve missed anything)
Who didn’t they ask him?
First of all, Evans is a woman. The short(ish) answer as to why *they* didn’t ask her is because Evans would have blown the whistle. Evans was a parlourmaid in a house owned by Rose Templeton. Rose is actually Moira Nicholson — her husband Dr Nicholson not a killer at all. Moira had met a millionaire called John Savage on a boat crossing, telling him her name was Rose Templeton and pretending to fall in love with him. She convinced him he was dying of cancer, even as doctors told him he was fine. Eventually she murdered him with chloral hydrate; she couldn’t rely on him changing his will in her favour first, though — Savage may have been in love but he wasn’t stupid.
With an accomplice, who pretended to be Mr Savage, she had a new will signed, leaving her a fortune. Then she murdered Savage. That accomplice was… Roger Bassington-ffrench! He pretended to be Mr Savage, ill in bed at Rose’s cottage. Rose and Roger got two people to witness the will: Alfred the elderly gardener, and the cook. That involved getting Alfred into the house, when they could have just asked the parlourmaid. But the parlourmaid was the one member of staff who would realise that the Mr Savage in the bed wasn’t the real Mr Savage, whom she had met several times when he visited the cottage. The cook and the gardener, meanwhile, would probably never have seen him. The parlourmaid’s name was… Gladys Evans.
Alan Carstairs, pushed over the cliff in Marchmont by Roger Bassington-ffrench, used his last words to ask Bobby the question that had brought him to the Welsh Village: “why didn’t they ask Evans” to witness Mr Savage’s will as she was in the house? Because she would have known that was not Mr Savage in the bed.
And what brought Carstairs to Marchmont? He had been investigating John Savage’s death — the two were great friends and he knew that leaving a new girlfriend so much money would have been quite unlike John. Carstairs had discovered that Evans the parlourmaid had not witnessed the will when really she was an obvious choice; and that afterwards she had married and moved back to her birthplace in Wales… Marchmont.
Not only that, she’d got a job as a housekeeper in the vicarage, where Bobby and his father lived. All the time, the answer to the big question was under Bobby’s nose.
There’s something Jane Austen-like about this story, from a young lady recovering at the big house of wealthy strangers, to an ending that involves a wedding. Yes Bobby and Frankie get married, she in a very chic trouser suit, and drive off into the distance — for a life of inherited wealth-supported crime-fighting, one hopes.
But now back to the story. Bobby and Frankie work out who Evans is after visiting Rose’s cottage, then check with a pub landlord where Evans later worked. He informs them she married and moved back to Marchmont. They borrow a car from Knocker and rush back to Marchmont. In the village they spot a distressed-looking Moira Nicholson, and stop to help. They go for a cup of tea in a cafe and she claims to have been followed by Roger Bassington-ffrench. She says he’s outside, and when Bobby and Frankie look, puts something in their tea. Frankie is on to her though, having seen what was happening, and confronts Moira, calling her Rose Templeton. Frankie then sends Bobby round to the vicarage, as she thinks Roger will have gone there to attack Gladys. They fight, and eventually Gladys whacks Roger over the head with a vase.
Roger is taken to the police cells where he confesses to Frankie and Bobby how he did it. Moira / Rose seems to have been the brains: she met Savage on the boat crossing. A Dutchman called Angel pushed Carstairs over the cliff; she’d found him, along with the Caymans (who received a cut of the profits) at Epsom Race Course. Angel also killed Dr Thomas — Moira’s idea, as he was starting to get too involved. Roger and Henry had always hated each other, with Roger mainly feeling his brother was wasting his money on misery. He killed Henry, used a crow-scarer hidden in the chimney months previously to mislead the family and police on the timing. Dr Nicholson had nothing to do with any of it.
Bobby proposes to Frankie, and they marry in the local church before driving off.
John Savage: a millionaire murdered by Rose and Roger, he dies before the story opens. They make it look like he has killed himself, taking drugs because he didn’t want a lingering death from the cancer he thought he had (he wasn’t actually ill at all, as the autopsy discovered).
Alfred, Rose Templeton’s gardener: He was 89, but it’s still a little suspicious that he was found dead the morning after he witnessed John Savage’s new will…
Alan Carstairs/Alex Pritchard: a South African adventurer and friend of Mr Savage, he’s pushed off a cliff at Marchmont in Wales by Roger Bassington-ffrench. His death opens the story. Amelia Cayman identifies him as Alex Pritchard and claims to be his sister.
Dr Thomas: The Marchmont doctor is playing golf, with Bobby as his caddy, when they discover Carstairs’ body. Later he’s found hanging in his home. Bobby and Frankie don’t believe he’s killed himself though; at the hospital with Bobby after the young man had being drugged, Dr Thomas made clear that he would choose a different mode of suicide to hanging, to limit cleaning up for distraught relatives.
Henry Bassington-ffrench: owner of the “big house” at Staverley, where Frankie goes to recuperate after her staged car crash just outside it. He’s shot dead by Roger, who makes it look like suicide. Henry is addicted to morphia. Roger and Henry have always hated each other.
Mr Angel: the bowler-hatted Dutchman appears menacingly at several points, and beats up Knocker so badly he ends up in hospital. Knocker eventually stabs Angel to death when they fight at Rose Templeton’s cottage, when he’s gone to rescue Bobby and Frankie from Angel and Roger.
A few of the book differences
Bobby is very much nice-but-dim, Knocker is called Badger, is terrible with money and his every business turns into a disaster. Dr Thomas isn’t murdered, either.
Moira / Rose tries to shoot Frankie in the cafe when Frankie exposes her real identity, but Bobby pushes the gun up so the bullet hits the wall.
Alan Carstairs had written to Gladys Evans / Roberts at the Marchbolt vicarage, warning her about Rose and saying he was coming to see her. But because his body is identified as Alex Pritchard she doesn’t realise she’s in real danger.
Rose Templeton’s gardener is 72 not 89 as in the TV series, presumably because to modern viewers the unexpected death of a 72 year old would indeed be suspicious.
By the end Frankie comments that Dr Nicholson is helping Sylvia Bassington-ffrench out, and she thinks they’ll eventually marry.
Roger Bassington-ffrench escapes, and later writes to Frankie from South America, explaining what he did and how he did it. And it turns out he also tried to kill young Tommy but failed!
Bobby gets a job managing a coffee planation in Kenya, and Frankie agrees to go with him.