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Malice Aforethought Paperback – April 7, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Francis Iles is the pseudonym for Anthony Berkeley Cox, but it is for his two widely-acclaimed masterpieces, MALICE AFORETHOUGHT and BEFORE THE FACT, both written as Francis Iles, that he is most famous. Iles was also a literary reviewer for the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Guardian. He died in 1971.

From AudioFile

A COUNTRY DOCTOR DREAMS OF SELF-ASSERTION THAT COMES IN THE FORM OF MURDERING HIS WIFE. Malice Aforethought is a vintage mystery novel of British manners and attitudes. Bruce Montague's skillful depiction of the male and female characters, their snobbishness and exaggerated accents, is delightful and humorous. The listener learns about the social structures of the time and the pressures that cause people to commit acts they would otherwise never consider. While these pressures might seem insignificant to us now, Montague's reading gives life to the story and helps the listener understand how important they were to people in the limited social circles of that time. D.M.W. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (April 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752864785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752864785
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.9 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
I have read this book several times and am energized every time.
Stella Dunn
A classic from 1931, the dialogue is marvelous; you can just "hear" the English manerisms and personalities through the writing!
cs
The characters are astutely drawn with psychological and sociological nuance.
C. Ebeling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
I have to confess that I don't own the audiotape, but I've read the book several times and think it's one of the best mystery novels ever written. It definitely, but definitely does not deserve to be out of print! Humorous mysteries are often not well plotted, but this is an exception; it's wickedly funny and ironic, yet it's also cunningly structured, with a story full of twists and turns that lead to a truly satisfying surprise ending. The character of Dr. Bickleigh, the hapless protagonist, is truly a hoot, and the supporting cast is fabulously drawn as well. Don't miss this one.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By wendrea on January 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
High quality meets high readablity! I wish everything I've read could meet such high standards of full character development, and intriguing, original, yet beliveable plot. This book is definately deserving of precious leisure reading time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By cs on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a glorious book if you like cosy English mysteries! A classic from 1931, the dialogue is marvelous; you can just "hear" the English manerisms and personalities through the writing! The characters are charming and likeable, and the main character is fantastic and amusing with his running internal rationalizations that lead to his decisions and actions. Don't miss this one!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on January 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dr. Edmund Bickleigh compares to Walter Mitty at first: a meek soul given to escapist daydreaming but living in reality under the thumb of a domineering wife. That's where the resemblance leaves off, however. Bickleigh, conceived by Frances Iles circa 1930, isn't all that innocent. An English country doctor, already given to dalliances with younger, more pliant women, he decides to do away with the wife and move completely to the role of steamroller rather than steamrolled. This is established in the very first sentence of MALICE AFORETHOUGHT, which gleefully follows Bickleigh from conviction to action and consequences.

The book is a brilliant tour de force. The suspense grows rather than diminishes with every page. There is something for everyone: social satire, mystery and suspense, police procedurals, even the type of science popularized by the CSI shows. The characters are astutely drawn with psychological and sociological nuance. I never saw the PBS version of the book, but it can't possibly have what lifts the book high and above its ilk: the Iles voice. On the page, the omniscient narrator is witty and smart. Iles has an uncanny gift for revealing information. Every twist, every outcome is airtight. He skillfully moves between the up close and personal perspective of Bickleigh, the view of neighborhood gossips and court and newspaper accounts. Most highly recommended. Despite its age, the book hardly seems dated except for references to standard plumbing of the era.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hacklehorn on July 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
A delightful comedy (for this is its main strength, not the fact that it was the first "psychological thriller"-and I have my doubts about this fact: didn't Mrs. Belloc Lowndes anticipate Cox?). Dr. Bickleigh, a philandering medico suffering from an inferiority complex, determines to rid himself of his wife, a bullying and domineering shrew, in order to marry his mistress-who announces her engagement to another man immediately after the murder. (Of course, his "ingenious" plan is immediately seen through by the other villagers.) Superb wit: excellent social satire-St. Mary Mead steeped in venomed ink, with plenty of amusingly catty back-biting and splendid caricatures. Berkeley at his most acerbic is highly amusing, in small doses-like aconitine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Insightfully Sensitive on October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This excellent, classic novel should be read by all lovers of great, well-written mysteries. The large-print type from the publisher is easy on the eyes, and the book came with lightening speed across a great distance from the very reputable seller. Sorry it's no longer in print in large-type. It should be! Grab a good used copy whenever you can!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Agatha Christie on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Francis Iles is considered the "father" of the inverted mystery. You know who did it at the beginning of the story. It's fascinating how the story unfolds from there. He does a great job of drawing you in and wondering what will happen next. A great read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edmund Bickleigh, an English middle class country doctor, is a personal weakling. Married to a shrew, his killing ways are revealed in the first sentence of the book. First it is about love, to free him to marry another woman, and then, a combination of false pride and a dose of vengeance, all attempted through NBickleigh's alleged medical knowledge, drugs and poisons.

Malice Aforethought is part psychological drama, part a satire on the middle class mores of eighty years ago. But I found the book slow going and not very interesting. There is also the problem of Bickleigh. While he believes he can outsmart everyone, he is a bit of a stumblebum, and his mistakes in trying to cover up his actions are sometimes so obvious, you see right through them.
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