A MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR OF STYLE
Gilbert Adair

 


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Faber & Faber/Allen & Unwin, Dec 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

Ten years after the events at Ffolkes Manor in THE ACT OF ROGER MURGATROYD, retired Scotland Yard Chief-Inspector Trubshawe is having afternoon tea at the Ritz hotel when he bumps into his collaborator on the case, mystery novelist Evadne Mount. He ends up having lunch with her and then accompanying her to see the actress Cora Rutherford, another character who was at Ffolkes Manor. Cora has just got a part in a film and she invites Trubshawe and Mount on to the set to watch the filming. There in front of the whole film set, Cora drops dead after drinking poisoned champagne. The intrepid duo are asked by Scotland Yard to get on the case and start to do a bit of sleuthing. They soon realise that there are only five people who knew that Cora was going to drink the wine. Only trouble is that none of them had a motive to want Cora dead.

It seems to me that so many murder mysteries of today have psychopath serial killers with blood dripping off axes and investigators who are either alcoholic or suffering from ‘a past.’ A MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR OF STYLE is a story that you can take refuge in and enjoy for the simple cleverness that is lacking in so many mysteries today. Set in post-war London our fearless investigators use brains and intelligence instead of computers to solve the crime. Adair recreates the wonderful Golden era of mystery writing, where blood splattered bodies are not spread from one side of the room to the other, but left tidily in one spot. Gilbert Adair read all sixty-six of Agatha Christie’s books before he commenced writing his parody of her books. In fact she is cleverly mentioned in both THE ACT OF ROGER MURGATROYD and A MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR OF STYLE as a fellow author who is disliked by Evadne Mount. I loved the Agatha Christie books – and I loved this one – there are more red herrings than in a fishing boat – but the resolution is perfectly satisfactory.

July 2008 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem

 

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