Characters Discussed

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Mollie Ralston

Mollie Ralston, a tall, pretty woman in her late twenties. Having inherited Monkswell Manor from her aunt, she has decided to turn it into a guest house rather than sell it. Some years earlier, she had taught at the school that the Corrigan children attended. Jimmy Corrigan sent her a letter revealing that his foster parents, the Stannings of Longridge Farm, were abusing him, and he pleaded with her to help. Because she fell ill with pneumonia on the very day that the letter arrived, she did not see it until weeks later, by which time Jimmy was dead. A potential murder victim because of her connection with Jimmy’s death, she is also a suspect in the killing of the other two women who were involved in the tragedy. She secretly went to London on the day Mrs. Stanning was killed and is the first to find the body of Mrs. Boyle.

Giles Ralston

Giles Ralston, Mollie’s husband of exactly one year. He is handsome and about Mollie’s age. The two married only three weeks after meeting, so his past remains a mystery. He, too, made a clandestine trip to London on the day of Mrs. Stanning’s death, and he wears a coat, scarf, and hat like those seen on the killer.

Mrs. Boyle

Mrs. Boyle, a large, middle-aged, querulous woman. A former magistrate, she unwittingly sent the Corrigan children to Longridge Farm. She is strangled at the end of the first act.

Leslie Margaret Katherine Casewell

Leslie Margaret Katherine Casewell, a twenty-four-year-old who looks older. With her masculine appearance, bearing, and voice, and a coat and scarf matching those worn by the murderer, she is highly suspect, especially because she refuses to reveal her motive for returning from Majorca to England after a twelve-year absence. At last, she explains that as one of the two surviving Corrigan children, she has come back to find her brother.

Detective Sergeant Trotter

Detective Sergeant Trotter, a twenty-three-year-old with a London accent. Although he pretends to be a police officer sent to Monkswell Manor to protect the guests, he is actually the insane George Corrigan, who has vowed to avenge his brother’s death. He has killed his abusive foster mother and Mrs. Boyle, and he nearly succeeds in getting the third mouse, Mollie Ralston, before his sister and Major Metcalf stop him.

Major Metcalf

Major Metcalf, a middle-aged man with a military bearing. Like most of the characters in the play, he is pretending to be someone other than he is. He is a policeman and takes the place of the real Major Metcalf to pursue the murderer. Because he is the right age to be Jimmy Corrigan’s father, who served in the army, he, too, is a suspect.

Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren, an unkempt and nervous young man. Orphaned at an early age and an army deserter, he matches the description of George Corrigan, especially because he is trying to forget an unhappy childhood. Moreover, he confesses to lying about his name and his supposed occupation of architect. His behavior throughout the play is highly suspect.

Mr. Paravicini

Mr. Paravicini, a taller version of Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot; he is dark, elderly, foreign, and mustached. He is an unexpected guest at Monkswell Manor and claims that his Rolls Royce overturned in a nearby snowbank. Because of his mysterious arrival and his unsettling habit of humming and playing “Three Blind Mice,” which he calls the murderer’s “signature tune,” and because of his apparent effort to look older than he is, he, too, is a suspect. In actuality, he is...

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no worse than a smuggler and black-market profiteer.


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Mrs. Boyle Mrs. Boyle is a large imposing woman in a bad temper; she complains about everything. She is disapproving of every effort that Mollie and Giles produce to make her comfortable. She surveys everything with displeasure and looks at her surroundings disapprovingly. Mrs. Boyle was a magistrate at some point. The audience learns just before she is murdered that Mrs. Boyle was the magistrate who sent three children to live with foster parents. The children were all abused and the youngest killed, but she disavows any responsibility for the tragedy.

Miss Casewell Miss Casewell is described as a young woman who is masculine in appearance and with a masculine voice. She claims not to have lived in England for some years, since she was twelve to thirteen years of age, but she is mysterious about where she does live. Mollie thinks Miss Casewell peculiar, and Giles doubts she is a woman. Wren and Miss Casewell talk, and she lets slip that she had a poor, deprived childhood too awful to think about. The audience learns in the final scene that Miss Casewell was one of the children who was abused so many years earlier. It was her younger brother who was killed. She also discloses at the play's conclusion that she returned to England to find her older brother, Georgie.

Georgie See Detective Sergeant Trotter

Major Metcalf Major Metcalf is middle-aged, square-shouldered, military in manner and bearing. He is friendly and very polite, and serves as a good counter to Mrs. Boyle during the play's first act. The audience learns in the final scene that Metcalf is a policeman who is at the guest house undercover to help find a murderer and to provide protection to the possible victims.

Mr. Paravicini Mr. Paravicini is foreign, dark, and elderly with a small flamboyant mustache. For those in the audience who are familiar with Agatha Christie's other works, Paravicini seems to be a slightly taller edition of Hercule Poirot, which may serve to confuse some members of the audience. Paravicini claims to be lost after his car overturned in a snow drift. He is much taken with himself—first leering at Mollie and then providing a dramatic reading of his untimely arrival in a storm with no luggage. The audience learns at the play's conclusion that he is a con man or crook.

Giles Ralston Giles is described as arrogant, attractive, and in his twenties. He has been married for one year to Mollie. Their courtship lasted only three weeks. Giles is jealous of the attention that Wren showers on Mollie. The audience knows little about Giles and it is revealed that Mollie also knows little about Giles.

Mollie Ralston Mollie is a tall, pretty young woman in her 20s. She has been married for one year to Giles. Mollie knew him for only three weeks before they married. Mollie inherited the house from her aunt and then decided to turn the property into a guest house. Both husband and wife are inexperienced at running an inn and have no idea what they are doing. The audience learns in the last scene that Mollie was a teacher years earlier and that she was the teacher of a young boy who was murdered by his foster parents. The child had written to Mollie for help, but she was ill and never received the letter. She is haunted by this child's death.

Detective Sergeant Trotter Detective Sergeant Trotter is a cheerful, common-place young man who arrives at the guest house on skis. He has a slight cockney accent. Trotter spends most of his time on stage explaining to the other characters (and to the audience) the motive for the murder of the woman in London. He is supposedly there to protect the guests in the household and to find the murderer. However, in the final act, Trotter pulls a gun out of his pocket, threatens to shoot Mollie, and reveals that he is Georgie, the older brother of a child who was murdered by his foster parents. Georgie and his sister were neglected and abused by the same people. It was Georgie/Trotter who murdered the woman in London and Mrs. Boyle. He is not really a policeman, but only assumed that disguise to gain entry to the guest house. Miss Casewell recognizes him because of his habit of twisting a lock of his hair when nervous. At the end of the play, she sedates him and takes him away to be confined where he can be treated for his emotional illness.

Christopher Wren Christopher Wren is the first guest to arrive. He is described as a wild-looking neurotic young man; his hair is untidy and long. Wren is also quick to confide and child-like. He also has a knowledge of and appreciation for fine furniture. Wren is friendly and likes to cook. But he is also nosy and prone to gossip, reflecting his interest in people. Wren claims to be an architect and to have been named after the seventeenth-century architect, Christopher Wren by his parents in an effort to promote an interest in architecture. He sings nursery rhymes at odd moments during the play. Wren arrives with a suitcase so light that Giles thinks it is empty. After Mrs. Boyle is murdered, Wren is quite distraught and convinced that Trotter will try to pin both murders on him. Later, he discloses that Wren is not his real name and that he is not an architect. But he doesn't volunteer any information about who he really is. His character is mysterious and the audience learns little of substance about him




Critical Essays