In the novel The Sittaford Mystery, James Pearson is the fiancé of Emily Trefusis. He is the nephew of Captain Joseph Trevelyan and the elder brother of Brian Pearson and Sylvia Dering.

Portrayals

In ITV's 2006 adaptation of the novel, James Pearson is portrayed by Laurence Fox. Here he is also engaged to Emily Trefusis but his backstory is totally changed. Rather than being a nephew of Captain Trevelyan, he is a ward. James's parents were the gardener and parlour maid of Captain Trevelyan. They both died in a boating accident during a servant's outing to Weymouth. Trevelyan then became the guardian of James and brought him up. During the time of the events in the show, James had the reputation of being a dissolute playboy who frequently appears in the social columns of newspapers. As the main heir named in Trevelyan's will, James naturally became the key suspect after the murder.

Like in the original, James travels to Exhampton to meet Captain Trevelyan, in this case because he had received a letter purportedly from Trevelyan threatening to cut him off from his will unless he reforms. In a drunken state, he threatens Trevelyan's life publicly in the dining room of The Three Crowns hotel. After Trevelyan's murder, James, as the prime suspect, is locked up in the larder.

In this adaptation, James contributes a bit more to the development of the plot than in the original. James confessed that during the seance, he was the one who moved the glass on the ouija board to indicate that Trevelyan would die that night. He said he did this to frighten his guardian. Later while locked in the larder, he overheard the cook Archie Stone tell the innkeeper Stanley Kirkwood that he was planning to get away in the night. His third involvement is when he wakes up to find the dead body of Ambrose Burt next to him, a misdirection laid by the actual killer of Captain Trevelyan.

At the end of the show, James is cleared and promises Emily that he will change his dissolute ways. However this doesn't sound very convincing and Emily breaks off the engagement and decides to travel abroad to Buenos Aires with Violet Willett.

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