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An English Murder Paperback – November 2, 2017
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"...incisive social commentary, vivid descriptions and nuanced interactions between characters... a book modern readers should not miss." ― CrimeReview
"This light-hearted classic from 1951 slips down as easily as eggnog on Christmas morning." ― Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express 'Murder and Mystery Books of the Year'
"Faber’s welcome republication of vintage crime bestsellers continued with An English Murder by Cyril Hare, a wintry country house whodunit from 1951." ― Mark Lawson, Guardian 'Best Crime and Thrillers 2017'
"Six people around the table on Christmas Eve in a large country house include the chancellor of the exchequer, the leader of a fascist movement, a Jewish historian and assorted toffs. They start dying, one by one. Snow prevents detectives from coming to investigate. Written in 1951, Cyril Hare’s novel tells a satisfying tale of politics and wealth, with an unexpected denouement." ― Times 'Books of the Year: Crime'
About the Author
- Publisher : Faber & Faber; New edition (November 2, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0571339018
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571339013
- Item Weight : 6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.5 x 7.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #166,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Also present is Briggs, the impeccable butler, and Rogers, a Sergeant of Special Branch and Sir Julius’ protection officer. Dr Bottwink is a delightful character and my favourite. He has been immersed in English history as he researches the Warbeck family and consequently knows a great deal more about English history than most English..
It is snowing as the guests arrive and by the morning of Christmas Eve, the grounds of Warbeck Hall are covered with snow that gets deeper as the day continues. By dinner-time on Christmas Eve the Hall is snowbound and the telephone lines are down, as they are in many parts of England. Christmas Eve dinner is not convivial and afterwards the guests head to the drawing room for the Christmas countdown, and one is dead before the clock finishes chiming. As the Hall is cut off, Rogers has to assume the role of investigating officer, a task he has become unaccustomed to since his transfer to the Diplomatic Protection Squad. The body count rises and the number of suspects shrinks.
There is subtle humour and gently mocking wit that seems to be a hallmark of this author’s style, which combined with diverse political views of the characters and a very ingenious plot, makes for an extremely readable and satisfying novel. The prose is well done, as is the dialogue and the use of language is first-rate. This one is a keeper for me.
I do have a couple of reservations and would give it 4 1/2 stars if half stars were allowed. The book was written at a time just after what's considered the Golden Age of British mysteries. So, rather than the country home being elegant with a full staff of servants, it's rather run-down with a greatly reduced staff -- the result of high postwar British income tax rates. Hare was, of course, merely reflecting conditions as they actually were in 1951, but I still prefer mysteries set during the interwar period. One other area where he falls short of Christie is not providing a character in whom the reader has a rooting interest. Often Christie would include in the story an appealing young woman or young couple with whom the reader could identify. None of the characters in this book really fits that role.
Still, if you like classic British mysteries, I doubt that this book will disappoint you.
You absolutely must buy this book, you will not be disappointed.
That aside the story is a classic British who-done-it in the Agatha Christie style - the clues are there and the final denouncement is right on target with a surprising twist.
Lord Warbeck pulls his remaining family to the ancestral home for a holiday gathering, but the uninvited guest (murder) puts an end to his plans and his life and his heir. Few wanted the old man dead, but the did want what he possessed. Fun reading for the holidays.
Nash Black, author of Ono Almanac: a yearbook of memories.
Top reviews from other countries
Set in a decaying English country house, its characters include aristocrats in an age of uncertainty, a socialist politician, a fascist leader, a displaced Jewish historian, a class-conscious butler, a political wife and a detective on protection duties.
Although many "classic" elements are present-isolated house, heavy snow, telephone lines down, small cast of suspects- this is not a straightforward case.
The writing is excellent and the humour-at everyone's expense-is delicious.
It is a fairly short book and easy to read. My first Cyril Hare but not my last.
I had Heard of Cyril Hare but this is the first of his classic country house mysteries that I have read. I loved it for its vivid characterisations, its well-constructed plot and its witty, insightful comments on life. For me, this was pure entertainment. Loved it!
Lord Warbeck is old, and ill, and keen to have his family with him at Christmas. His guests include his son, Robert – who is the President of the League of Liberty and Justice, a right wing political group, Sir Julius Warbeck, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mrs Carstairs, whose father was the rector of the parish when she was young, Lady Camilla Prendergast, a distant relative, and Dr Wenceslaus Bottwink, a Professor of History, currently doing research at Warbeck House.
The guests are an ill assorted group and tensions, political and personal, are in the air. The house is snowed in when there is a suspicious death and Rogers, a Special Branch Detective, whose job is to keep Sir Julius safe, is asked to step in to investigate. However, it is Dr Bottwink who, with the aid of his historical knowledge, solve the mystery. An interesting, post-war, setting for a classic murder mystery.