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In the novel Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Alan Carstairs was a Canadian explorer, naturalist and big-game hunter. He was found dying on the cliffs by the golf course near the Welsh town of Marchbolt. He was falsely identified as Alex Pritchard by Amelia Cayman, a woman claiming to be his sister. He was a friend of Colonel and Mrs Rivington.

His final words, heard by Bobby Jones, were: “Why didn’t they ask Evans?”

Portrayals

ITV's Agatha Christie's Marple

In the 2008 ITV adaptation, the name of the character is changed to "John Carstairs". Like in the original, Bobby Attfield finds him dying at the foot of a cliff. However, in this case there is no photo in his pocket and there is no Roger Bassington-ffrench turning up to switch it. Like in the original, he is identified at the inquest (falsely) as Mr Pritchard by one Mr Trent, who claims to his cousin. And just like in the original, Carstiars is investigating a suspicious will. In this case, Carstairs knew the deceased Jack Savage from his time in China and believed that his will, which left everything to an orphanage in China, to be out of character and proceeded to investigate.

However, in this adaptation, this Carstairs left far more information behind which assisted Miss Marple and others to determine the truth. Near the spot where he died, Miss Marple found his abandoned car. Inside is a map on which Castle Savage in Herefordshire is ringed. There is also a hotel key. Bobby Attfield later traces the logo on the key to that of the Cattermole Hotel in Knightsbridge. Searching the room, Bobby discovers his passport giving his real name as "John Stansfield Carstairs". There is also a photo (like the one in his pocket in the original novel), except that it this case, the person is clearly identified as "Moira". There is also a note which apparently coded words:

children

Snape Sp & W

ALLIOW ?

Ex F ?

Miss Marple later decoded these as follows:

  • Snape Sp & W: Mr Snape, G. Sparks and T. Wilkins, the solicitor and two witnesses of the will
  • ALLIOW ?: all to the Isle of Wight? Most of the members of the Castle Savage household had been sent on a holiday at the time the time was made.
  • Ex F?: except Florrie?

Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie

In Pourquoi pas Martin?, the France Télévisions adaptation of the novel for the TV series Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie, the parallel character is Alain Langevin.

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