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In the novel Mrs McGinty's Dead, Bessie Burch is the niece of the murder victim Abigail McGinty. She and her husband Joe Burch live in Cullavon three miles from Broadhinny.

Because Bessie stood to gain 200 pounds from the will of Mrs McGinty, Superintendent Spence considered both Bessie and her husband as plausible suspects during the initial investigations but soon eliminated them from consideration. He found that they did not really need the money although they might have welcomed it. Joe had a steady job and they lived in a council house of which they were very proud. On the night of the crime, they were at a cinema. They might have left it unnoticed, cycled three miles to the cottage to murder Mrs McGinty but then why hide the money so near the scene of crime when they could have hidden it anywhere on the three miles back? Poirot also agreed that Bessie was not a plausible murderer.

After taking up the case, Poirot called on Bessie and her husband for background information on Mrs McGinty. It transpired that Bessie did not really know her aunt very well and they only came together for meals occasionally. However Bessie had kept a suitcase of her aunt's things and searching through it, Poirot found a piece of newspaper from which an article had been cut out. This was the first led he would get in cracking the case.

Bessie Burch was thirty-eight and "a big, plump woman with a healthy colour and a good-humoured mouth." Spence thought she was pleasant, a bit talkative and seemed fond of her aunt "in a mild sort of way". However Poirot did not get her to talk much initially as she had a suspicion of foreigners and he had to spend much effort breaking this down. Nonetheless, she was the kind of woman Poirot approved of. Her house was "neat and clean and smelt of furniture polish and Brasso. A faint appetizing smell came from the direction of the kitchen." He observed that she was a "good wife who kept her house clean and took the trouble to cook for her man". She might be prejudiced and obstinate but not the kind of person to kill her aunt with chopper.


Bessie Burch was played by Emma Amos in the film adaptation of Mrs McGinty's Dead in Series 11 of ITV's Agatha Christie's Poirot. In the adaptation she and her husband Joe had actually moved into Mrs McGinty's cottage after her death. She did not display any particular hostility toward foreigners in this portrayal.

There is no parallel character for Bessie in Mademoiselle Mac Ginty est morte, the France Télévisions and Escazal films adaptation of the novel.