The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge is the tenth episode of series 3 of the ITV British television drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot featuring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first broadcast on 10 March 1991 in the UK. The episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story of the same name and was directed by Renny Rye with dramatisation by T.R. Bowen.
The TV adaptation is faithful to main premise of the original short story with respect to how the murder is carried out. Several additional characters have been created and side plots have been added. Poirot is actually there at the Hunter's Lodge with Hastings, although he does come down with a cold. The denouement and ending is different.
Comparison with Original Story
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Unlike the original story, Roger Havering is a friend of Hastings and invites him to Hunter's Lodge for the shooting season. Poirot also comes along although he falls sick after the first day's shoot.
Harrington Pace is portrayed as a much more dislikable man. There are additional characters such as gamekeeper Jack Stoddard and nephew Archie Havering. They all have grievances. After Pace's murder, none of them have alibis.
In the original story, Roger Havering had an air tight alibi in the form of his trip to London. Here, in a major side plot, Poirot, still sick in bed, calls for a railway timetable and breaks his alibi. After Ashby Pickard, where Roger boarded, there is another nearby local halt named Ashby Le Welken. After disembarking from this halt, a person could cycle to Hunter's Lodge, commit the murder, and then board an express train from Ashby Pickard which could still reach London before the earlier local train. Mr Anstruther, the station master of Ashby Le Welken reports that someone stole his bicycle and the thief matched the description of the murderer. Poirot insists that the priority is to find the bicycle but neither Japp nor Hastings agree.
Challenged about this, Roger refuses to account for his movements and so gets arrested by Japp. He later confesses that he had gone somewhere else before reaching London: he had gone to see Lord Quamby to beg for more time to settle some horse racing debts. He could not admit in front of his wife because he had promised her he would never bet on horses again.
Like in the original story, the major suspect is the housekeeper Mrs Middleton disappeared after the murder. In the adaptation, they actually do find one Mrs Middleton but she has an astonishing story: she had been met on arrival by one "Mrs Pace" and told that the shooting season had been cancelled. She had been paid off and asked to keep off the agency's books for a month, which she agreed to. Therefore the Mrs Middleton seen by everyone at Hunter's Lodge was an imposter.
In the original, there is no denouement. There was not enough evidence to arrest Roger or Zoe Havering. They died in an air accident shortly after inheriting Harrington Pace's estate. Here, Poirot arranges the denouement by borrowing a dog from the gamekeeper. The dog is shown Mrs Middleton's apron. It then finds the bicycle buried a field, with the false beard and hat of the murderer. Poirot then gathers everyone to explain his conclusions. The false Mrs Middleton had got on to the train in disguise, come off at Ashby Le Welken, stole the bicycle and gone back to Hunter's Lodge. She shot Harrington Pace, hid the bicycle and became Mrs Middleton again. Who was Mrs Middleton? The dog is brought into the room and heads for Zoe Havering. Roger blusters but Zoe tells him to shut up and they go with Japp quietly.
- David Suchet as Hercule Poirot
- Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings
- Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector Japp
- Diana Kent as Zoe Havering
- Jim Norton as Roger Havering
- Shaughan Seymour as Archie Havering
- Roy Boyd as Jack Stoddard
- Bernard Horsfall as Harrington Pace
- Victoria Alcock as Ellie
- Clare Travers-Deacon as Joan
- Christopher Scoular as Sergeant Forgan
- Ray Trickitt as Constable Cooke (as Raymond Trickitt)
- Arthur Whybrow as Mr Anstruther
- Denyse Alexander as Mrs Middleton