Published 1941 Book 1 chapter 5 & chapter 7
Mr Crale had been painting in a small enclosed garden, known as the battery garden, from the fact that it overlooked the sea, and had some miniature cannon placed in embattlements. It was situated at about four minutes’ walk from the house. Mr Crale had not come up to the house for lunch as he wanted to get certain effects of light on the stone – and the sun would have been wrong for this later. He had, therefore, remained alone in the battery garden, painting…
The Battery was an artificially cleared plateau with battlements set with cannon. It gave one the impression of overhanging the sea…
A girl, a girl in a canary-yellow shirt and dark-blue slacks, sitting on a grey wall in full sunlight …
observations: If you’re a big fan of Agatha Christie, and you’re ever lucky enough to go to Greenway, her Devon holiday home, and you go walking in the grounds – then you might have a moment when you come along a path and go ‘Woa! No way!’ because you realize you are standing in the exact spot where Amyas Crale died. The Battery Garden is instantly recognizable to fans of this book.
And as an extra joy, the village across the water from the house (roughly where Handcross Manor would be) is called Dittisham: Elsa Greer in the book, 14 years on, is Lady Dittisham.
And if the book is as much a part of your family life as it is in ours, you can call ‘I’ll see to her packing’ to each other, to be overheard and misunderstood by others. (Though we do that all the time, not only in the Battery Garden.)
Elsa in the book is having an affair with Amyas, and wants him to leave his wife and marry her. She says ‘if [his wife] loved him, she’d put his happiness first, and at any rate she wouldn’t want to keep him if he wanted to be free.’ This is a common trope in Christie books, a whiney claim that love might mean allowing a divorce – but it’s not an idea you come across much in real life. Did people really think that, or is it just for the convenience of her plots?
In an earlier entry on the book, I enthused about the TV adaptation of Five Little Pigs – the only thing that could have improved it would have been shooting it in the right place, ie at Greenway. This is where the TV film shows the murder taking place - nice enough in its way:
Christie said Greenway was the most beautiful place in the world, and it must be high up there. There is a lot to recognize, from the boathouse where Marlene dies in Dead Man’s Folly – soon to feature in a new TV production of the story apparently - to the foxglove leaves from the Marple short story, the Herb of Death.
The top photo was taken at the exact spot where Elsa Greer must have sat on the grey stone wall posing for Amyas. With thanks to TKR and BNS.