Agatha Christie Wiki
Advertisement

In the novel Evil Under the Sun, Linda Marshall is the daughter of Kenneth Marshall and the stepdaughter of Arlena Marshall, whom she disliked. Linda's mother, Ruth Marshall, died when she was born.

Linda dislikes her face, which she considers to be "mostly bones and freckles". She has a "heavy bush of soft brown hair", whose colour she describes in her own mind as "mouse". She has "greenish-grey eyes" and high cheekbones, and her chin has a long aggressive line.

Linda has big hands, with "large bones and long wrists". Her voice has an "indrawn breathy quality", which is "often characteristic of schoolgirls".

According to her father, Linda takes after her mother in that she feels things, and takes them hard.

At the time of the events of the novel, Linda is sixteen years old, and she finds it "awful" because she does not know where she is. She is "conscious the whole time of her ungainliness", and of the fact that she is neither a child nor an adult.

Linda has left school, and does not know what she is going to do next. Her father talked about sending her to Paris, and while she did not want to go to Paris, she also did not want to stay at home, as she disliked her stepmother, Arlena.

Linda disliked Arlena because Arlena viewed her with a "contemptuous amusement", and because with Arlena around, she felt that she was "immature and crude" by comparison.

Linda also disliked Arlena because there was "something she did to people". She felt that her father was different around Arlena, because he was bottled up and "not there".

Linda likes Rosamund Darnley, because Miss Darnley had been nice to her, and had treated her "like a real human being". Linda seldom feels like a real human being, so she is "deeply grateful" when people treat her like one.

Linda shows interest in a book that is small and squat, and bound in brown calf, but she shoves it back onto the shelf hurriedly when Christine Redfern sees her looking at it.

On the morning of the murder, Linda reads the calf-bound book, and then goes to the general shop, where she purchases candles. On returning to her room, she finds Christine, who invites her to go to Gull Cove.

At Gull Cove, Linda sunbathes while Christine sketches. When Christine goes back to the hotel to prepare for her tennis game, Linda goes into the sea.

Christine Redfern's alibi for Arlena's death depends on Linda, as Linda states that Christine left Gull Cove at a quarter to twelve. Linda was sure of the time because she had looked at her watch.

When searching Linda's room, Poirot finds that something has recently been burnt in the grate. He finds a blob of candle grease, some fragments of green paper or cardboard, a pin and some burnt animal matter which is possibly hair. He also finds the calf-bound book on the shelf, shoved behind the other books.

It is later revealed that the calf-bound book is A History of Witchcraft, Sorcery and of the Compounding of Untraceable Poisons.

Towards the end of the novel, Linda is to join Poirot and other hotel guests on a picnic. However, at the last minute she tells them she is not coming, as she has a headache.

When Poirot and the others return from the picnic, they find Linda unconscious. There is a note in her handwriting addressed to Poirot, in which she says that she killed Arlena, and that she thinks this is the best way out.

It is later revealed that Linda had taken Christine's sleeping pills from the Redferns' room, and had overdosed on them.

Poirot reveals that Linda had been reading about "various methods of causing death by moulding in wax a figure supposed to represent the victim". He explains that Linda had fashioned a figure out of candle wax, possibly adding a lock of Arlena's hair, had stabbed it with a pin, and had melted it. This revealed that she had the desire to kill her stepmother. Poirot explains that her manner when she was interviewed showed that she considered herself guilty for her stepmother's death.

Linda survives, and tells Poirot that she is glad that she did not die after all. She tells him that she meant to kill Arlena, and that is the same as if she had killed her. Poirot tells her that it is not the same, because the wish to kill and the action of killing are not the same. He tells her that with the pin and the fire, she destroyed her hatred for her stepmother, and Linda says that she did feel happier after she had done it.

Portrayals

Evil Under the Sun (1928)

In the 1982 Ustinov adaptation Linda Marshall is portrayed by Emily Hone. The protrayal is close to the original but there is no witchcraft subplot. She dislikes Arlena but doesn't take any active steps.

Agatha Christie's Poirot

In the 2001 Suchet adaptation the character is renamed Lionel Marshall and portrayed by Russell Tovey. Instead of a book on witchcraft, he borrows a book on "Dangerous Chemicals and Poisons" from the local library. He is considered a plausible suspect as he has strong enough hands to strangle Arlena and an pair of his spectacles is found at the crime scene.

Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie

In Ding Dingue Dong, the Frances TV adaptation of Evil Under the Sun, the parallel character is Adèle Rodier.

Advertisement