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In the novel Sleeping Murder, Walter Fane is the son of a Dillmouth lawyer. After training as a lawyer and passing all his exams, he decided to try working as a tea planter in India. Before he went to Indian, he had been in love with Helen but she had turned down his proposal of marriage. After he got to India, Helen changed her mind and accepted his proposal and sailed out to meet him. On arrival, she changed her mind again and told him he could not marry him and she sailed back to England again.

Shortly thereafter, Walter also decided that life as a tea-planter was not for him and he sailed back to England where he joined his father's firm in Dillmouth Fane & Watchman. By the time of the events in the book, he had become the senior partner. He remained married and was close to his mother.

Recalling the events of some twenty years ago, Walter told [{Gwenda Reed]] that he knew her as a child and met her on the occasions when he visited Helen and her eventual husband Kelvin Halliday. Walter used to give the child Gwenda piggy-back rides.

As a former lover of Helen and having been rejected by her, Walter was considered to have a motive in wanting her dead and was a plausible suspect. However, Gwenda Reed met Walter on the pretext of drawing up a will, dismissed the possibility as she found him too quiet and gentle, and from a woman's perspective, too dull.

Portrayals

BBC's Miss Marple

In the BBC 1987 adaptation of the novel, Walter Fane is portrayed by Terrence Hardiman. The portrayal here is very faithful to the original novel. Gwenda uses the same pretext of drafting a will to meet him and later makes the same remarks about him being dull.

ITV's Agatha Christie's Marple

In the ITV 2006 adaptation of the novel, Walter Fane is portrayed by Peter Serafinowicz. Here he has a more active and colourful role to play in the plot. He was a former lover of Helen and he was seen out on the streets till late on the night she disappered. However he later revealed that he was seeking to confide in Helen about some other thing. It turned out that he had been having an affair with Janet Erskine, co-leader of the "Funnybones" entertainment troupe. He had gotten Janet pregnant and wanted to confide in Helen.

Subsequently Janet gave birth to George Erskine who was actually Walter's son. Despite George being a rather neurotic and incompetent person, Walter later gave him a job as a clerk in his law firm.

NHK's Anime adaptation

In NHK's anime adaptation of Sleeping Murder, Walter Fane appears and is portrayed in a manner that is fairly faithful to the original novel but the voice actor behind the character is not credited.

Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie

In Un meurtre en sommeil, the French Télévisions film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder, the parallel character is Guillaume Parisot.

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