Agatha and the Truth of Murder – review

    Florence Nightingale Shore (Stacha Hicks) takes a train journey and is bludgeoned by a strange man after a brief conversation. She died four days later. 

    Desperate to get over her writer’s block, Agatha Christie (Ruth Bradley) goes to see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Michael McElhatton) whilst he is in the midst of a golf game. He tells her that to get over his own writer’s block, he designed a golf course. 

   Back at home, her husband, Archie (Liam McMahon), is pushing for a divorce. Christie does not want to grant him the divorce. Whilst debating the point with her husband, they are interrupted by a visitor, Mabel (Pippa Haywood). She wants Agatha to help solve the murder of her dear friend and partner, Florence. Christie tells her that she is a writer, not a policeman and declines. 

    She goes to see a golf course designer and expresses her wish, in a desperate attempt to cure her writer’s block, to design a golf course. The designer scoffs at the thought of a woman designing a golf course, dismissing the idea out of hand. 

   Having initially refused, Agatha changes her mind and contacts Mabel. Mabel has a list of suspects. They hatch a plan to bring all the suspects together. The suspects are gathered together, in the style of one of her famous stories, under the ruse of a potential inheritance. 

    Christie’s decision to go undercover as an inheritance employee has unforeseen circumstances. The country thinks she is missing and it ends up on the front pages of the newspapers. With the added pressure of potentially being discovered, Christie must try and solve the case quickly. 

     Gathered in the large country house that Mabel and Agatha have used is; Randolph (Tim McInnerny), Wade (Dean Andrews) and his daughter, Daphne (Bebe Cave), Travis (Blake Harrison), Zaki (Luke Pierre), Pamela (Samantha Spiro) and her son, Franklin (Joshua Silver).

   Under the guise of the inheritance adjudicator, Agatha begins to interview the suspects. After interviewing Wade and his daughter, she tells Mabel that she believes Wade to be the murder. In fact, she is convinced of it, telling Mabel that she will not need to interview anyone else. 

    Her triumphalism is punctured when Wade falls through a window, having been shot dead. Daphne tells the group that a masked man tried to shoot her and her father had jumped in front of her and taken the bullet, falling through the window. The real police are called.

    Detective inspector Dicks (Ralph Ineson) arrives with an officer at the house. He is not very happy. He tells the gathered that he would normally just take everybody down to the station and interview them there, but due to Agatha Christie’s disappearance, most of his resources have been deployed, in search of the famous author. 

    Christie is still determined to find out who the murder is, even as the real police investigate Wade’s murder. She has another theory, but as the inspector has all of them restricted to their rooms, the next best option as he is unable to take them to the station. 

   As Christie continues to snoop, she is confronted by Inspector Dicks. He addresses her as Agatha Christie, pointing out that her disguise of a pair of spectacles is not the most convincing. Christie tells the inspector that she believes Daphne killed her father because he was so violent, Dicks concurs, pointing out Daphne was the only person in the room with him at the time. 

   They quickly realise that Franklin, with his mother, Pamela, as an accomplice, killed Florence. Unfortunately, they have no proof. They hatch a plan to get a confession out of the two and it works, though, in the end, Pamela points out that they have no proof. 

   The collective group, at the moment, decide to commit perjury and get the two convicted. The end.

   Agatha and the Truth of Murder is an enjoyable romp and rattles along quite nicely over its ninety-minute running time. Ruth Bradley, probably best known for her role as DI Karen Voss in the excellent Humans, is great and wonderfully, subtly, emotive, as a young Agatha Christie. 

   Television stalwarts, Pippa Haywood as Mabel, Tim McInnery as Randolph, and Ralph Ineson as DI Dicks are right at home in this made for television movie, and perform as well as one would expect. All the acting on show is excellent, with every performance exactly where it needs to be in a slightly farfetched story. 

    Written by Tom Dalton, the story is a complete work of fiction, even to the point that they make it clear, with a title card at the end of the film, that it is in no way endorsed by the Agatha Christie estate. This is a minor quibble and only relevant to hardcore Agatha Christie fans. 

    If you like a period set murder mystery – though, truthfully, it is not that much of a mystery – and have ninety minutes on a lazy Sunday afternoon, there are worse ways to pass the time. 

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