Mr Rafiel is very wealthy, owns an enormous chain of supermarkets in the North of England. He comes to the Golden Palm Hotel every year.
Mr Rafiel's exact age is not stated, but he is said to be "nearly eighty". He is semi-paralysed, and looks "like a wrinkled old bird of prey". He has shrewd blue eyes, and is frequently rude. However, people are usually not offended, because he is so rich, and because his "overwhelming personality" makes them feel like he has the right to be rude if he wants to.
When he is wearing his beach attire, Mr Rafiel is described as looking "incredibly dessicated, his bones draped with festoons of dry skin". Although he looks like a man on the point of death, at the time of the events of the novel, he is said to have looked like that for at least the last eight years.
According to Mr Rafiel, there are several men in London who would not be saddeed to hear of his death, but who would not do anything to bring about his death, as he is expected to die any day. Mr Rafiel says that these men are surprised that he has lived so long, and so are the doctors. However, Miss Marple points out that Mr Rafiel has a great will to live.
Mr Rafiel's chief pleasure in life is "denying robustly" anything that anyone else says. He suffers almost continual pain, and making disagreeable remarks is one of his ways of letting off steam.
According to Esther Walters, Mr Rafiel gets tired of people, and had had five different valet-attendants in two years, as he enjoys having someone new to bully. However, he had always gotten along well with her.
Mr Rafiel says that he pays Jackson double the salary that he would get from anyone else, because he has to put up with Mr Rafiel's bad temper. He pays Esther a large salary as well, which he augments every year. He has also made himself responsible for Esther's daughter's education, and has set aside a sum of money for her in trust, which she will receive when she is of age.. He believes that however decent and honest people are, one should never trust anybody, so he has made it clear to both Jackson and Esther that they need not have any expectations from him when he dies.
Mr Rafiel finds out from Mr Daventry that Major Palgrave had been poisoned, and asks Miss Marple what she thinks about it. He says that there is nothing to do on the island but make money, and that does not take up enough time, so he is taking interest in the case. Miss Marple tells him that if there is another murder being planned, he needs to stop it. She points out that he is rich and important, and so people will take notice of what he says and suggests.
Mr Rafiel is later woken up in the middle of the night, by Miss Marple, who tells him that they have to stop a murder from happening. He sends Jackson with Miss Marple, telling him to obey every order she gives him, and promising to make it worth his while.
At the end of the novel, Mr Rafiel wires to England for a nominee, who is to help Molly Kendal run the hotel. He assures her that the murders will not deter people from coming, as people "love murders when they're all cleared up". He also advises her not to distrust all men just because she has met one bad one.
In a later novel Nemesis, Rafiel is mentioned a second time. Here he is dead but has written a letter to be sent to Miss Marple, asking her to help solve an injustice. His first name "Jason" is mentioned in this second book but not in the first. In the letter to Miss Marple, he signs himself as "J. B. Rafiel".
Mr Rafiel's wife died quite soon after they were married. He has a son called Michael and two daughters, one who died young and one who married and moved to America. According to Esther, Mr Rafiel never spoke about his son, and Esther gathered that there had been some trouble or scandal.
According to Esther, Mr Rafiel was a man who never said much about his personal feelings or his own life, and was always focused on business, and so she did not know whether he was upset about his son or not. She said that he was a man who would always decide to cut his losses, so if a son turned out to be unsatisfactory, he would perhaps send him money for support, but otherwise never think of him again.
Mr Rafiel had arranged for Mr Broadribb, his solicitor, to contact Miss Marple after his death. Mr Broadribb was to inform her that Mr Rafiel had left her a legacy of twenty thousand pounds, to become hers absolutely, if she was successful in investigating a certain crime. Mr Rafiel also arranged for her to go on the Famous Houses and Gardens tour, and had paid all the expenses.
Shortly before he died, Mr Rafiel wrote to Lavinia Glynne and her sisters, saying that a friend of his would be on the Famous Houses and Gardens tour, and might like to stay with them for a few nights, as that part of the tour was rather strenous. Mr Rafiel was an old friend of Mrs Glynne and her sisters. According to Clotilde Bradbury-Scott, Mr Rafiel had a country house in Kent, where he sometimes entertained business friends or people from abroad, but on the rare occasions that they met him, he had nearly always entertained them in London.
It is revealed that Mr Rafiel's son, Michael, had been charged with killing a girl, and had been committed to an institution. The Governor of this institution, and Professor Wanstead, were of the opinion that a miscarriage of justice had been committed. Professor Wanstead told Mr Rafiel about this, and said that an enquiry might be held.
Mr Rafiel had told Professor Wanstead that he knew that Michael would always be in trouble, was dishonest, and no one could make him go straight. Mr Rafiel had washed his hands of him, although he had always provided money or legal help if it was needed.
Mr Rafiel wanted to get Michael vindicated, and released from confinement, and if someone else had killed the girl, he wanted that fact brought to light and recognized. However, because he was very ill, and had not long to live, he empowered Professor Wanstead as his chief help, and said that he would try to enlist Miss Marple's help as well.
In the 1983 Warner Bros adaptation, Mr Rafiel is portrayed by Barnard Hughes.
In 1987 Nemesis was adapted. Jason Rafiel was portrayed by actor Frank Gatliff.
In the 1989 episode A Caribbean Mystery, Mr Rafiel is given the first name "Jason" as in the novel Nemesis (in the novel A Caribbean Mystery he is only called Mr Rafiel). He is portrayed by Donald Pleasence.
In the 1997 adaptation A Caribbean Mystery and the 1998 adaptation Nemesis, Mr Rafiel was portrayed by actor George A. Cooper. These two adaptations were made in chronological order and the same actor portrayed Mr Rafiel both times.
Agatha Christie's Marple
In the 2013 ITV adaptation, Mr Rafiel is portrayed by Anthony Sher. In this adaptation, he is a rich business man who deals with chemicals and fertilizers. He is less cranky than in other adaptations. He is impressed by Miss Marple's sharp observations and partners up with Miss Marple shortly after the death of Major Palgrave to prevent further killings. He goes with Miss Marple to see Inspector Daventry to persuade him to exhume the Major for example. Upset by the inspector's lack of interest, he tells Miss Marple that they would get to the bottom of the case themselves. In this adaptation he unwittingly contributes two motives for Tim Kendal to want to kill his wife. In the first place, he had secretly willed some money to Esther Walters--something which the snooping Jackson had discovered and had told Tim. Secondly, Rafiel had been trying to buy over the Golden Palms hotel because the land contained valuable guano deposits. Tim welcomed the opportunity but knew that Molly would never sell for sentimental reasons--the hotel had belonged to her parents.