Allison and Busby: This edition published April, 2007
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill
Do you yearn for a return to the Golden Age of crime fiction? When pretty
young things smoking gaspers toddled down to Father’s estate for a weekend
house party in the country? No gathering like this is complete without an
assortment of odd bods: the annoying foreigners, perhaps an American
millionaire or two, and there simply has to be the mysterious person who
no one knows very well, who has managed to wangle an invitation. There is
jewellery to be stolen, guests sneaking around in the dark, bumps in the
night, a scream, a shot and..... not one but TWO dead bodies. Oh, and
let's not forget that secret passage that the Earl shows his houseguests
with great pride.
Things come to a head when the local police detective turns up to untangle
the mess. People underestimate Detective Sergeant Wilkins. He’s short and
unprepossessing and “isn’t sanguine, not sanguine at all.” He confides to
one of the guests that he’s been told he bears a resemblance to Hercule
Poirot but claims he doesn’t have “the little grey cells”.
Everyone underestimates Sergeant Wilkins. He’s not the country plod they
all think he is.
If you like the sound of that, you’ll love THE AFFAIR OF THE BLOODSTAINED
EGG COSY written by James Anderson. Anderson takes a fun, ever-so-slightly
tongue-in-cheek look at Golden Age mysteries when Dame Agatha Christie and
Dorothy L. Sayers reigned supreme. Anderson manages to capture most of the
conventions of the 30’s English crime novel. The cast of characters could
have come from any number of Dame Agatha’s novels. In fact, Anderson has
taken a leaf out of her book and included a cast of the main characters
and a map of the house in which all the action takes place. Take note of
that map. It does come in handy in keeping track of the midnight
meanderings of a goodly number of the guests.
The ending is suitably edifying, with the inevitable get-together of
everyone in the library (or is it the living room? It doesn’t matter) to
reveal did what to whom. There are a number of crimes to be solved and
Wilkins uses the ploy of accusing suspects of greater crimes to uncover
the lesser. You wouldn’t expect less in a Golden Age mystery tribute would
you? If you do find things wrapped a bit too cleanly, with a few too many
crimes, well who cares? It’s all such jolly good fun.
First published: Murder and Mayhem, August, 2007
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