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In the novel Dead Man's Folly, “Old” Merdell was a 92-year-old boatman, driving a ferry cross the River Helm. He was the father of Mr Merdell and Mrs Tucker, and thus the maternal grandfather of Marlene Tucker.

Old Merdell was decribed as being a "very old man with rheumy eyes". He met Poirot on the quay near Nasse House, and struck up a conversation. He told Poirot that he used to look after the boats for Old Squire Folliat.

Merdell gave Poirot background information on the Folliat family, and mentioned that there would "[a]lways be Folliats at Nasse". He also said that the Folliats were rare and cunning. However, when Poirot asked what he meant, he merely said that Mrs Folliat was living up at the lodge.

He drowned, and it was believed to be an accident. He had been coming home from his favourite pub, the Three Dogs in Gitcham, across the river, late one night. It was thought that he had missed his footing getting on to the quay, and that he had fallen into the river. His body was washed up at Helmmouth the next day.

According to Mrs Tucker, he used to get tips on the quay, by helping people with their boats or to park their cars. He was very cunning at hiding his money from her, and she did not know where he had gotten the money to go drinking at the Three Dogs on the night he died.

It was revealed that Old Merdell's death was not an accident, but was murder. Poirot surmised that he was murdered because he had recognized that Sir George Stubbs was actually James Folliat, and he had also told his granddaughter, Marlene, about seeing a woman's body in the woods.

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