THE ACT OF ROGER MURGATROYD
Gilbert Adair

 


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Faber & Faber/Allen & Unwin. This Edition first published Dec 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

It is very early in the morning on Boxing Day and a group of guests are all awake and in shock, at Ffolkes Manor on the edge of Dartmoor. The guests have been snowed in, but this is not the reason for the early awakening. The dead body of Raymond Gentry has been found in an attic room. Distressing enough, but the room is locked from the inside. There is one window with thick bars on it and the only furniture is a chipped table with a rickety chair, and an armchair that had seen better days. There is no sign of the murderer or the murder weapon. Like it or not, each of the guests is a suspect, and each has his or her own reason to kill the totally unpleasant Gentry.

The recently retired Scotland Yard Chief-Inspector Trubshawe lives a mile away. He agrees to come to the Manor and carry out an informal investigation until the police can get through the blocked roads. Through his gentle questioning all secrets are eventually revealed.

This story is a lovely parody of those books published in the Golden Age of mystery writing. Anyone who is a fan of crime fiction is aware of the Golden Age of Crime writing - old manor houses, seemingly impossible murders, upper class suspects and red herrings galore were all presented to the reader so they could guess who had committed the crime. This book is written along those lines it is even set in the 1930s. It is an easy to read, enjoyable book that gently pokes fun at the classic detective stories.

Dec 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem

 

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