The Red House Mystery – A. A Milne

15 Nov

The eagle eyed or just long term viewers may recognise this as an old post and you’d be spot on as well.  Back in my younger days I posted this and then another post half an hour later. Unsurprisingly that got all the love and The Red House Mystery has had a total of three hits since its original publication on the 7th May.  I won’t make a habit of reblogging old work but I have always felt this deserved another chance:

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.


Posted by on 15/11/2012 in Crime


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12 responses to “The Red House Mystery – A. A Milne

  1. pennycoho

    16/11/2012 at 08:22

    Alrighty then. I haven’t read this book SteJ, but I’d be curious in a look through just on the principle of who wrote it. I’m sorry it doesn’t live up to a really good read. I guess every book can’t be a gem, sadly!


    • StetotheJ

      17/11/2012 at 16:26

      I think overall it’s just the style, it’s a tad archaic and grates after a while. It’s worth a look but I found myself bogged down with it. It tries to do something good in the taking out of all the details readers aren’t privy too and just using deductive skills so at least that makes it an interesting case.


      • pennycoho

        17/11/2012 at 17:14

        Funny that, when one thinks on it. Some books are timeless, others perhaps due to the style of writing or other factors become dated and less readable with the passage of time. I wonder how much is the author him/herself and their point of reference or the verbage used. Could have a whole discussion on this one as various authors come to mind lol!


        • StetotheJ

          17/11/2012 at 17:55

          The mind boggles over that one. That would be at least a week of posts. Moby Dick, comes to mind but then again that book will haunt me until I go and spear a whale myself, which I hope I never do but maybe I will just fall into it one day. Life is weird like that.


  2. LuAnn

    16/11/2012 at 16:52

    I’m so glad you reblogged this. It sounds like a fascinating read. I need to get busy and get some of these books read. The list is growing fast thanks to you Ste J. 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      17/11/2012 at 16:27

      I have a back catalogue of hundreds to review so you’ll be glad to hear that I shall keep piling them on.


  3. Andrea Kelly

    17/11/2012 at 04:42

    Being a big fan of mysteries and having read a lot of them, this book has been on my list of ones to get to for quite some time now! I’ve heard it’s not the best, but that it’s refreshing because it’s different. I’m definitely going to have to give it a try sometime soon.


    • StetotheJ

      17/11/2012 at 16:29

      It’s always nice when the author sees a potential problem with the genre, perhaps problem is not the right word but the phone calls we aren’t privy too etc, do get a tad annoying when you are trying to enjoy a good story so it’s a nice twist to try and do away with them. I did spend a lot of time going up blind alleys as well. My deductive powers are pretty moderate based on the book.


  4. renxkyoko

    26/11/2012 at 20:10

    Haha I think I’ve read all of Miss Marple’s and Hercule Poirot’s mystery adventures. I used to borrow at least a dozen books at a time, and could read 2 a day. I’ll look up this title, for sure.


    • StetotheJ

      27/11/2012 at 19:35

      One thing that put me off Poirot was Ariadne Oliver, when she turned up I closed the book. Two a day, that is dedication, this one adds something a little different, and if you love a lot of by jove! exclamations then you are onto a winner indeed.



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