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In the novel A Caribbean Mystery, Major Palgrave was an old major, who used to bore others with his endless stories. Like so many Majors, Colonels and Lieutenant-Generals Miss Marple had met before the stories were much the same. The difference was that Major Palgrave had been posted in Kenya rather than in India. One of the stories he told Miss Marple was about a murderer.

Major Palgrave had spent fourteen years in Kenya, and he considered those years some of the best of his life. He had also been a subaltern at the North West Frontier.

Major Palgrave was described as being "purple of face, with a glass eye, and the general appearance of a stuffed frog". Miss Marple considered him to be very similar to General Leroy, Captain Flemming, Admiral Wicklow, and Commander Richardson.

Major Palgrave had an overstuffed wallet in which he kept a lot of photographs. He used these to illustrate his stories. He had been about to show Miss Marple a photograph of a murderer, when he started staring over her shoulder, and then stuffed everything back into his wallet.

The following morning, Major Palgrave was found dead. His death was thought to be natural, as a result of him having high blood pressure, and drinking too much alcohol.

Major Palgrave "had little to anchor himself to any particular part of the world". His wife had died many years ago, and he had led a lonely but cheerful life, and had enjoyed himself in his own way. Miss Marple had gathered from what he had told her, that he had no immediate family, and lived by himself in London. According to Dr Graham, Major Palgrave travelled a lot, especially in the winter, as he did not like English winters.

It was later revealed that Major Palgrave's body was exhumed, and an autopsy revealed that a lethal dose of a drug had been taken. The exact name of the drug was not revealed, but according to Mr Rafiel, a sizeable dose of this drug would produce death, and the signs would be similar to those of high blood pressure aggravated by drinking too much alcohol.

Miss Marple suggested that when Major Palgrave had been telling her the story about the murderer, and had taken the snapshot out of his wallet, he had looked up, and seen the same person. She further suggested that the murderer might have been planning another murder, and could not afford for any similarity to previous murders to be pointed out, and so they had to kill Major Palgrave, to stop him from telling the story.

Portrayals

In the 1983 Warner Bros adaptation, Major Palgrave is portrayed by Maurice Evans. Here he has the first name "Geoffrey". In this adaptation the fact that he has a glass eye is not a plot element and it is not stated whether he has a glass eye or not.

In the BBC 1989 adaptation, Major Palgrave is portrayed by Frank Middlemass. Here he has the initials "C. J." The poison used on him here is called "tetrauwolfide", also used for high blood pressure. Here also, Palgrave had a different career path. Besides a military career, which accounted for most of his stories and photos, he later became a colonial policeman and was seconded to the St Kitts and Nevis police between 1947 and 1950 and this is how he got the photo of the person he claimed was a murderer. He boasted to Miss Marple that he is not on Barbados just for a holiday.

In the 2013 ITV adaptation, Major Palgrave is played by Oliver Ford Davies. His first name is Robert and he has a D.S.O. The murderer whose photo he wanted to show Miss Marple had been obtained in Kenya during his army days. It was a picture of a man holding a marlin. Like in the original, the glass eye is a significant plot element.

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