1/3: The Wrong Shape
It all begins with a prophetic warning: Leonard Quintin will die today. Though, it’s a few minutes yet (roll opening credits) before we get to know who Leonard Quintin is. And it seems he’s a curious chap who has spent a little too long in India (while anachronistically anticipating the 60s) and now lives in a ménage à troi with his miserable wife and his harebrained mistress. In a big house.
(There are quite a few big houses in the vicinity of The Village. One wonders where the working classes live. But perhaps they dutifully fill the pews and don’t get murdered?)
To this big house go Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Lady Felicia, for a poetry reading. This could all get messy. Though Lady Felicia wears a wonderful frock.
It takes a little while for Leonard to duly pop his clogs, which gives time for his family life to unravel rather. There’s also time for us to meet a couple of other characters: Leonard’s guru-like gardener (who plays vague Hinduism like it’s Dances With Wolves. Also: suspicious foreigner) and Sneering Suit (who … well, self-explanatory, really. Also, he fancies miserable Mrs Q).
Lady Felicia discovers the body. She gives good shriek, she does. She’s also now practiced enough in body discovery to swiftly recover her senses and get back to fretting about her broken high heel.
Leonard Quintin in the conservatory with a noose! But once Father Brown rumbles the forged suicide note, it’s into the drawing room with the lot of ’em for a good old closed room mystery … much of which then proceeds to take place in Mrs Quintin’s bedroom.
So it turns out that the Quintins had had a secret child – secret, because horribly deformed as a result of his newfangled drug prescription for her pregnancy sickness (thalidomide: 1957). He ran away to India; she ran away to the big house. And when he came back and the baby died, they buried her in the garden.
What does this have to do with the murder? We-ell, there’s a fair concoction of guilty consciences, jealousies, regrets and retributions twining through this story and knotting into the marriage. The confessional also affords Father Brown his most godly-graceful moment in the series thus far.
So whodunnit? It’s not actually who we think it is. Or who he thinks it is. Or perhaps it might be, after all.
Things learnt this episode:
- “Darling, men are duplicitous and fickle.” Say it with Lady Felicia.
- When inviting guests to your erotic poetry reading, do include the priest.
- When said guests need to be removed from suspicion for plotting purposes, simply invite them to take a turn about the garden.
- Attempting to live with a mistress and a wife is bound to go badly. Especially when emotionally punctuated with poetry.
- If your gardener announces that he’s foreseen your death in a plant, duly make preparations for The End.