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An Oxford Tragedy by J. C. Masterman

An Oxford Tragedy (1933)

by J. C. Masterman

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A distinguished but disliked academic is murdered late one evening in the Dean's rooms in the fictional Oxford college of St Thomas's. The murder weapon is a loaded revolver, left by the Dean on a table, in preparation for an interview the following morning with the two students from whom it had been confiscated. Its existence and location were topics discussed that evening by the Fellows of St Thomas during their dinner. And so although it is possible that the murder may have been committed by an outsider straying into the college after hours, knowledge of the gun seems to define the most likely suspects: the academics, the serving staff, and the two wayward students. Continued ( )
  apenguinaweek | Jul 6, 2011 |
I believe this was written in 1933; a golden-age mystery classic that's on every list of the top 100 classic mystery stories I could find. If you like this sort of thing, then I do recommend it. If you are too much of a reader that deals with stuff in the present, you probably won't like it or you may be bored.

The setting is Oxford University; St. Thomas's College. A distinguished guest has arrived, and the Vice-President of the college hosts a dinner for him which is attended by all of the dons. The guest is one Mr. Brendel, from Germany; he is fascinated with the subject of murder and as dinner proceeds, the conversation turns to how easy it is to find a killer, what the perfect murder and how to commit it might be. The hour grows late, and as much as everyone is enjoying this disturbing (don't forget -- it's the 30s and these are a group of distinguished Oxford dons!) conversation, there are certain dons which have to leave the festivities to work. One of these is Professor Shirley, who was supposed to have met another of the dons, Hargreaves, in his office some time back. He excuses himself, goes up to Hargreaves' office; not 20 minutes goes by until the fellows still in the dining room are informed that Shirley is dead, having been shot with a pistol in Hargreaves' office, one that had earlier been confiscated by some ne'er-do-well students and had been left loaded. Well, Scotland Yard is called in, but it is Professor Brendel here who is asked to investigate by the college vice-president. He does warn the vice-president that he may not like what Brendel uncovers; and as the investigation proceeds, it turns out he is correct.

What's kind of cool about this novel is the focus on what the effects of the murder are on the inhabitants of St. Thomas's College. Today we're so jaded but back then, there was much that was scandalous!

I liked it; I'm a British mystery fan, the older the book the better. If you are into the golden age/classic mystery style, then you'll like this one as well. ( )
1 vote bcquinnsmom | May 11, 2006 |
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Francis Wheatley Winn, Senior Tutor at St Thomas's College, is ready for a cosy night of dining, port, and pleasant company. Ernst Brendel, Viennese lawyer and crime specialist, has come to Oxford to lecture in Law, and the regular residents of St Thomass are pleased to have such an interesting guest to liven up their after dinner chat. Talk soon turns to murder, and Winn finds the subject altogether unpalatable, even if his colleagues seem to relish the details of past cases Brendel has worked on. But then real Murder breaks the cosy calm of the evening, shocking the inhabitants out of their frivolous talk. Now Winn must overcome his distaste to work with Brendel in uncovering the perpetrator of this terrible crime.… (more)

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