Happy Christmas Eve, lovely readers!
Tonight we’re hunkering down with a Christmas Comfort recommendation from Robert Thorogood (Death in Paradise, The Marlow Murder Club). Unsuprisingly, Robert has chosen an absolutely classic crime novel, but with a festive twist…
Robert Thorogood recommends…
An English Murder by Cyril Hare! If you love Golden Age murder mysteries, they don’t come any better than this. A posh family return to their country house to spend Christmas together and are then snowed in while a killer moves among them. It contains all the usual betrayals, revelations and reversals you’d expect in a story like this, but there are two things that make the book really stand out.
Why is An English Murder so brilliant?
Firstly, it was written in 1951 and there’s a fascinating post-war edge to the writing. You get a real sense of how exhausted the country is, how poisonous the upper classes could be, and – best of all – our hero detective is Dr Bottwink, a Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis and is in the house as a ‘mere’ member of staff (he’s been employed to write the family’s history). Seeing the power dynamics shift as the family come to rely on Dr Bottwink adds extra bite to what otherwise could have been a by-the-numbers Country House Murder.
Secondly, the book has one of the best denouements in the whole murder mystery cannon. The reveal as to who the killer is, and why they did it, is shockingly, brilliantly truthful and obvious once it’s been explained to the reader. But it really is one of those stories where, with some confidence, it’s possible to say, ‘you’ll never guess who did it’.
So get yourself a copy of An English Murder this Christmas, curl up in front of the fire with a mince pie and a glass of something medicinal, and lose yourself in one of the greatest ‘fair play’ murder mysteries ever written.
We can’t wait to grab ourselves a mince pie and race through the pages of An English Murder. Thanks Robert!