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In the novel Hickory Dickory Dock, Patricia Lane was a student resident at Hickory Road, studying for a diploma in archaeology. She was affectionate and probably secretly in love with Nigel Chapman. The novel leaves open whether Nigel reciprocated it.[1] They had toured the chateaux of the Loire together. Nigel had contracted pneumonia and she had to nurse him back to health.

Role in the plot[]

Patricia played two significant roles in the plot. In one, after Nigel had made good on his bet and had procured three poisons, Patricia found one of them, a bottle of morphine, in his sock drawer. She disapproved of this because it appeared dangerous to her. Accordingly, she took her own bottle of bicarbonate of soda and switched the contents. She then put the bicarb bottle containing the morphine into her own drawer. At least her room was not shared with someone else and thus more secure. Later when Akibombo needed some bicarbonate of soda for a stomach problem, Elizabeth Johnston got Patricia's bottle for him. He felt ill after taking it and later discovered that the bottle contained boracic. The police were surprised to hear about this as it showed that someone had already switched the morphine for boracic which the bottle was in Nigel's drawer. And that therefore someone had the morphine.

In the second plot role, Patricia somehow got to know that Nigel had two passports. It was never explained how but she had traveled with him and came into his room frequently as she helped to repair his clothes. At first she accepted his explanation. But later, she somehow linked his other lastname "Stanley" and surmised that his father was Sir Arthur Stanley. As the old man was dying she felt Nigel should be reconciled with him and even wrote a letter to Sir Arthur. When she told Nigel, he angrily tore up the letter before it could be posted.

Poirot later surmised that Nigel killed Patricia because she represented a latent threat to him. He was concerned that his father not discover what he had been up to. He might have torn up one letter, but Patricia could always write another.

Patricia was described as a young girl in her early thirties. She did not wear make-up apart from "a smear of lipstick, carelessly applied". She had mouse-coloured hair which was combed back from her face and "arranged without artifice". She had pleasant blue eyes looked at people seriously through glasses. Poirot did not approve of her appearance and compared her negatively with Vera Rossakoff who had exotic splendour, even in decay. By contrast, Patricia had no allure and her clothes looked like they had been dragged "through a hedge backwards". He found her well-bred unaccented tones wearisome to the ear. She was intelligent and cultured but he felt that every year she would grow more boring.


Agatha Christie's Poirot[]

In the 1995 ITV TV film adaptation, Patricia Lane was portrayed by Polly Kemp. As the whole plot element of fake passports is omitted from the adaptation, the reason Patricia is killed is changed. Here she is a student of politics. She greatly admires Sir Arthur Stanley (who in this adaptation is a politician). When she learns that he is very sick in a hospital, she sneaks into his hospital room to see him. She discovers a family photo album and leafs through it. In a family photo she saw Sir Arthur's son and recognised that he was in fact Nigel. Patricia took the photo and somehow must have spoken to Nigel about his father (all this happened off-screen), leading to him having to kill her. Obviously Patricia did not mention to Nigel that she had the photo with her--it was left in her pocket and proved critical for Poirot in solving the case.

Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie[]

In Pension Vanilos, the TV film adaptation of the novel by France Télévisions, the parallel character is Marguerite Richard. Here she is back to being an archaeologist and romantically involved with Jean-Baptiste Millet, the Nigel Chapman parallel.


  1. Christie appeared to intend that Nigel did really like Patricia. She notes that Nigel's grief when he sees Patricia dead is real. See Curran, Agatha Christie's Complete Secret Notebooks, 443.