The Red House Mystery – A.A Milne

07 May

Are you endlessly frustrated by the almost supernatural powers of detectives’ deductive abilities? Or the really annoying method authors have of letting their creations receive a phone call/telegram or package etc, with which we are not privy to the contents until the climactic unveiling of the villain of the piece, or even worse the character or significant event that is key to the plot, yet you have no knowledge about until the end game is in play, is then shoe horned in at the end of the book to tie up all the plot threads?

A.A Milne, he of Winnie the Pooh fame was in the same frame of mind,  so fashioned his only detective story around a hero who anyone could identify with; an average person with a bit of common sense and a good dollop of curiousity, who is up for a bit of amateur sluething. A fellow who is joined by a friend, a good friend but one who is thankfully a little more slow on the uptake than you, whom you can memerise with your reasoning.

The story is set in an archetypal English country house featuring ‘secret passages, uninvited guests, a sinister valet’ (and a major, there’s always a major) and of course the puzzling murder one of Mr Mark Ablett. Of course the police are baffled as is usual in these cases and it always makes me wonder why the police force employ such slow witted people when the likes Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot et al always seem to outshine them.

So to the story, irritatingly (or not depending on your perspective) the plot is one of those where you think you possibly have an answer yet always seem thwarted by new information disproving your oh so clever train of thought, or maybe I am not skilled enough in these sorts of books and should go and join the police force.  As the plot is laid out we get to see all of the same information as our protagonists Antony Gillingham and Bill Beverly and follow their deliberating and puzzlements.  Which makes a nice change in perspective to follow their thoughts step by step.

Although this book is a decent read it is badly dated and the  “righto!” and ” by jove!” way of speaking and repititions thereof grated on me about halfway through. Not to mention the pacing wasn’t particularly great and I did feel I was grinding it out somewhat but all in all it has a satisfactory ending if slightly contrived which disappointed me slightly as I was expecting a bit more from it. Not the lost gem the blurb says it is but for something a bit different from the usual crime stuff, it’s probably worth some of your time if you have nothing more pressing to read, which i’m sure you do.

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Posted by on 07/05/2012 in Crime


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