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The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

The Red House Mystery (1922)

by A. A. Milne

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English (50)  Finnish (1)  All languages (51)
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The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne; (4*); (44)

A typical 'locked room mystery', this novel features characters who may not be all they seem to be or may perhaps may be more than they seem to be. Each acting for mysterious motives which range from love to revenge. Servants overhear bits of conversation which offer clues. The discovery of a secret passage, the appearance of a ghost, and a convenient lake to hide evidence all become part of the plot which is more cerebral than action packed. Antony's photographic memory aids him in getting at the truth about the murder well before the local constabulary.
Written in 1922 before Winnie the Pooh was even thought of, the book was a gift for Milne's father who was a retired headmaster who loved mysteries. Milne had written twelve plays at this point in his life and that served him well here. The book has the feel of a long play, depending more on dialogue than on action. It features many of the clichés of 'locked room mysteries'. Avoiding the need for difficult transitions between scenes, Milne often addresses the reader directly to offer information. At one point, Bill Beverley affectionately teases Antony Gillingham: "Silly old ass", he chides, reminding the reader instantly of the "silly old bear" who will make his debut in just four years.
I enjoyed this mystery so much and was disappointed to find that it was the only one Milne wrote. ( )
  rainpebble | May 5, 2019 |
Great fun, in a very 1920s sort of way – amateur sleuths lighting pipes all the time and declaring "rather!" to each other. Clearly written with a great affection for the genre. ( )
  dtw42 | Feb 3, 2019 |
This is a story written just for people like me--country house mystery fans.

In Milne's introduction he says "that the detective must have no more special knowledge than the average reader. The reader must be made to feel that, if he too had used the light of cool inductive reasoning and the logic of stern remorseless facts (as, Heaven bless us, we are quite capable of doing) that he too would have fixed the guilt." And, what do you know, he succeeded! In this story of newly-minted amateur detective Antony Gillingham who stumbles across a country house murder, Gillingham as Sherlock and his friend Bill Beverley as Watson lead us through every clue and thought process and we are allowed to solve the mystery alongside them. And I will proudly say that I solved the murder at just the moment that Gillingham did! Alas, Beverley was slightly behind us.

This wasn't a perfect book. It was a little choppy to start and slightly repetitive in places. But it was short and fun and obviously written by a fan of the genre. I'm disappointed that Gillingham didn't get to use his ever-improving detecting skills again but I'm equally glad that we ended up with the many adventures of our favorite honey-guzzling bear.

https://webereading.com/2018/05/classics-challenge-4-red-house-mystery.html ( )
  klpm | May 26, 2018 |
Read mostly because Raymond Chandler hammered it in his essay The Simple Art of Murder. Chandler’s correct, or course – I love this quote (describing the amateur detective and hero Antony Gillingham):

“He is not making any money on the assignment, but is always available when the local gendarmerie loses its notebook. The English police seem to endure him with their customary stoicism; but I shudder to think of what the boys down at the Homicide Bureau in my city would do to him.”

You really don’t have to read The Red House Mystery; you can get all you need to know from Chandler’s essay. It is a typical English-country-house murder; I’m amazed that anyone ever ventures even close to an English country house given the likelihood of being murdered in one.
Chandler, of course, protests too much in his insistence on realism. The English-country-house-murder is a genre, like poor-but-feisty-heroine marries rich-but-bored duke, or great-evil-crazy must be defeated by band-of-rag-tag-adventurers, etc. Those books stay on print because people like them; it doesn’t matter that Hercule Poirot is no more realistic than Aragorn son of Arathorn.

Fun if you like this sort of thing; dull if you don’t. ( )
3 vote setnahkt | Dec 29, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Milne, A. A.primary 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 your language.
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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Book description
Haiku summary
A "locked-room" murder

solved by pair of witty Brits

just in time for tea.


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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:31 -0400)

(see all 5 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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