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THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY (original 1922; edition 1950)

by A.A. Milne

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746None12,452 (3.41)72
Authors:A.A. Milne
Info:E.P. Dutton & Co. (1950), Hardcover
Collections:Favorites - Classics, Read but unowned

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The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne (1922)



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Good mystery. wonderful introduction by A A Milne. I copied it to keep. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Well I fell for this one hook line and sinker!

If it hadn't been for the fact that I was on a train and had nothing else to read I wouldn't have been able to summon the strength of spirit to finish this. I still think it proved to be in a waste of shame, though. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Dec 15, 2013 |
A pleasant read. Not the most mind-boggling mystery, but the characters were nice to become acquainted with. ( )
  emanate28 | Oct 14, 2013 |
The only detective novel written by A.A.Milne, and a very good one. Many surprises and a very acceptable plot. I hugely enjoyed it. ( )
  ReneH | Sep 26, 2013 |
My copy of this book is so old it's not even listed here; it's published by Methuen, the 14th edition that I found in a little antique/book store near my house and paid a dollar for. The Red House Mystery is not a bad read -- neither is it, as Milne says in his introduction, "very nearly the ideal detective story." It's a country-house, locked-room sort of story, with lots of red herrings, two amateurs playing at Holmes and Watson and an ending that I sort of guessed but not really. It's also one of those books where you have to make yourself get through the first few chapters, but after that you'll encounter pretty smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Antony (Tony) Gillingham, the less important son of a privileged family, came into an inheritance at 21, and decided to see the world -- through its people. Now at age 30, he has decided to go and visit a friend, Bill Beverley, whom he met earlier while working at a tobacconist's shop. Bill, it seems, is a guest at a house party at Mark Ablett's Red House, and Antony decides to go and see him. As it turns out, he arrives just in time for a murder -- that of Robert Ablett, Mark's "wastrel" brother from Australia who had just recently arrived. Everyone else is asked to leave; Bill and Antony stay on at the house until the inquest with Mark's cousin and protégé Matthew Cayley. Having time on his hands, and "wanting a new profession," Antony decides that becoming a "private sleuthhound," and "being Sherlocky" are just the ticket, and tags Bill as his ever-faithful Watson. Anthony's already got the murderer pegged, but how he/she did it is another question altogether. While Bill sees it as a Sherlockian lark, Tony sometimes finds the going tough:

"Of course, it's very hampering being a detective, when you don't know anything about detecting, and when nobody knows that you're doing detection, and you can't have people up to cross-examine them, and you have neither the energy nor the means to make proper inquiries; and, in short, when you're doing the whole thing in a thoroughly amateur, haphazard way."

Now here, refreshingly, is a character who understands his limitations -- and the possibility that he could be wrong about some things actually occurs to him from time to time. Nevertheless, the two do a proper bit of sleuthing here, even if at times it seems as though they're playing at silly buggers.

The amateur approach to crime solving here is interesting and I'm sure the author meant well, given his "passion for detective stories," but when it comes right down to it, there are several PPIs (problematic plot issues) that are really noticeable, especially for avid crime-reading junkies. Still, it's a fun little mystery novel, and I have a secret fondness for stately English-manor mysteries, so I found it quite enjoyable -- more so for the two main characters and how they go about pretending to partake in a Sherlockian adventure than for the plot itself. I also loved the introduction to this book, where Milne (yes, the Winnie-the-Pooh guy) talks about his love of detective stories and his ideas about the elements of the perfect detective story. I have to agree with him on most points.

Some readers may find the language a little stilted -- one reader noted it as being "tedious," but fans of crime writing during this era are used to it so it's not really that big of a deal. And there's nothing at all tedious about it. If you're looking beyond Agatha Christie for a 1920s-period novel, you might enjoy this one. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | Jul 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A. A. Milneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crælius, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greene, DouglasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannula, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simon, ElisabethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, Wendell HertigPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My dear father,

Like all really nice people, you have a weakness for detective stories, and feel that there are not enough of them. So, after all that you have done for me, the least that I can do for you is write you one. Here it is: with more gratitude and affection than I can well put down here.

First words
When I told my agent a few years ago that I was going to write a detective story, he recovered as quickly as could be expected, but made it clear to me (as a succession of editors and publisher made it clear, later, to him) that what the country wanted from "a well-known 'Punch' humorist" was a "humorous story".
In the drowsy heat of the summer afternoon the Red House was taking its siesta.
Information from the Norwegian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
To Antony, who was older and who realized into what deep waters they were getting, it did not seem fun. But it was amazingly interesting. He saw so much, and yet somehow it was all out of focus. It was like looking at an opal, and discovering with every movement of it some new colour, some new gleam of light reflected, and yet never really seeing the opal as a whole. He was too near it, or too far away; he strained his eyes and he relaxed his eyes; it was no good. His brain could not get hold of it. But there were moments when he almost had it ... and then turned away from it. (Vintage Books 2008, p. 121)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486401294, Paperback)

This droll whodunit from the creator of Winnie the Pooh sparkles with witty dialogue, deft plotting, and an amusing cast. In between taking tea and playing billiards, an amateur detective and his chum investigate their genial host's disappearance. A series of lighthearted capers ensues, replete with secret passageways, underwater evidence, and other atmospheric devices.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:01 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This droll whodunit from the creator of Winnie the Pooh sparkles with witty dialogue, deft plotting, and an amusing cast. In between taking tea and playing billiards, an amateur detective and his chum investigate their genial host's disappearance. A series of lighthearted capers ensues, replete with secret passageways, underwater evidence, and other atmospheric devices.… (more)

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