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In the novel Murder in Mesopotamia, Bill Coleman is a young man at his first dig at Tell Yarimjah.

Bill is described as having a "round pink face", and Nurse Leatheran feels that he seems exactly like a young man out of a P.G. Wodehouse book.

He is interested in Sheila Reilly, and when he is around her, he reminds Nurse Leatheran of "a large stupid dog wagging its tail and trying to please".

Bill is not particularly interested in archaeology. When his guardian asks if he has any special profession in mind, he answers that he does not, and so his guardian arranges for him to join Dr Leidner's expedition for a season.

Bill says that he would like to not have to work at all, and that he would prefer to have plenty of money and get involved in motor racing. However, as he knows that is unlikely to happen, he does not mind doing any work, as long as it is not an office job. He says that he is fairly good at drawing, and that imitating handwriting used to be his speciality at school.

On the day of the murder, Bill goes into Hassanieh to get the workmen's pay, and to send in the letters. On his return, he hears the news that Louise Leidner is dead, and is immediately sent back to Hassanieh to get Dr Reilly, and inform the police.

After Mrs Leidner's death, Bill gathers a bunch of scarlet ranunculus to put in the pot on her table. He explains that one was not able to get flowers in Hassanieh, and it seemed rotten not to have any flowers for the grave, so he gathered these wildflowers, of which Mrs Leidner had been fond, to show that she had not been forgotten.

It is later revealed that Sheila Reilly had ridden up to the dig on the day of the murder, and had seen the expedition lorry drawn up in a wadi not far from the house. Bill had been walking along with his head down, as if he were searching for something. He explained that he had slipped a cylinder seal into his pocket, and had forgotten to put it in the antika room. He later realised that he had lost it, and had been trying to find it. He had rushed through his business in Hassanieh and gotten back early, which meant that he was near the house at the time of the murder.

At the end of the novel, Nurse Leatheran mentions that a few years after the events of the novel, she nursed Bill when he had appendicitis, and got quite fond of him. She also mentions that his people were sending him to farm in South Africa.

Portrayals[]

In the ITV 2001 TV adapatation of the novel, the part of Bill Coleman is played by Jeremy Turner-Welch. Here he is made out as Hastings' nephew and he does most of the support chores for the expedition, such as driving to Baghdad to send/collect mail and fetch guests (such as Poirot). He was seen searching suspiciously for something in tall grass around the time of the murder of Louise Leidner but he explained that this was because he had lost an artefact which he was supposed to carry from the dig to the dig headquarters. In spite of Hastings' reservations, Poirot considered Coleman a possible candidates for William Bosner. As Hastings was forced to admit, his sister had adopted Coleman as a son at the age of nine. He came from America and had a heavy American accent as a child. Coleman frequently engages in banter with Sheila Maitland and is often at the receiving end of her sharp tongue. However, towards the end, he invites Sheila to a dance and she accepts.

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