foul play

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "foul play" means in the following sentences:

The newspaper is spread wide on his study desk: Biggest Manhunt in History Yields Nothing. Is Foul Play to Blame in Novelist’s Strange Disappearance? He does not need to read the full article to know who is being suspected of that foul play. There is and has always been only one suspect.

- Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Part One, Chapter Forty-Two

This is a mystery novel published in the United States in 2020. The story is mainly set at the present time in 1926, when Agatha Christie suddenly went missing for eleven days, but also goes back to the past time in the 1910's. In this scene, set in 1926, the narrator Archie is reading a newspaper article in which he is being suspected as the perpetrator of the foul play against his missing wife Agatha.

In this part, I wonder what "foul play" would mean here.
I learned in the dictionary that "foul play" can mean similar to "murder," but would it perhaps has the implication of "attacking/hitting a person so that the person would eventually die"...?

I just wonder how it is different by saying "foul play" and "murder."


I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I learned in the dictionary that "foul play" can mean similar to "murder," but would it perhaps has the implication of "attacking/hitting a person so that the person would eventually die"...?
    "Foul play" just means an illegal activity. Newspapers tend to sensationalise, and readers tend to think the worst, so "murder" is probably what readers first think of (and what newspaper editors want people to think - they will be more likely to read the newspaper if it is about murder), but it also includes abduction, being held prisoner against her will, and various forms of coercion. The alternatives to foul play are an accident and Agatha acting of her own free will.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    So "foul play" means an illegal activity that might include murder and all sorts of coersion such as abduction (probably done by Archie), and is a concept opposed to accidents and Agatha's free will.
    It is a general concept that includes coersion, not only murder!
    I truly appreciate your help, as always. :)
     
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