Forgotten Stories: English Country House Murders

English Country House Murders, Thomas Godfrey, editor, Mysterious Press, 1989, paperback, 22 short stories

1721455“There you are, after a day with overripe household bills or baby nappies, fatigued and spent. You retire to a comfortable seat in a secluded corner with a new Country House Mystery. Suddenly you are transported to a splendid baronial manner and teas with Lord and Lady Ferncliffe, who never paid a bill or changed a nappy in their lives.”

from the Introduction

Country House mysteries are a sub-genre of the cozy sub-genre of the mystery genre. I suppose that means they are sub-sub-genre, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, this type of mystery can be well written, plotted and clever.

The introductory remarks I quoted above make it clear that there is a bias for these to be women’s reading. I don’t hold with this gender-specific fiction idea, so let’s forget that right now. I have always enjoyed cozies; I cut my mystery-reading teeth on Christie.

This book contains twenty-two stories in a nice fat 533 page anthology. This is the kind of thing I think of as a “comfort read” and when I was looking for something soothing to read I spotted this on the shelf and let out a little sigh. Perfect.

The first story in the collection is Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” and the last is “The Worchester Enigma” by James Mills, both featuring Sherlock Holmes. Between these stories lie stories by a who’s who of classic British mystery authors. A very nice anthology, recommended for those who – frequently or occasionally – like their mystery fiction on the short and mild side, but still with an intriguing puzzle.

Table of Contents:

The Adventure of the Abbey Grange – Arthur Conan Doyle
A Marriage Tragedy – Wilkie Collins
Lord Chizelrigg’s Missing Fortune – Robert Barr
The Fordwych Castle Mystery – Emmuska, Baroness Orczy
The Blue Scarab – R. Austin Freeman
The Doom Of The Darnaways – G.K. Chesterton
The Shadow On The Glass – Agatha Christie
The Queen’s Square – Dorothy L. Sayers
Death On The Air – Ngaio Marsh
The Same To Us – Margery Allingham
The Hunt Ball – Freeman Wills Crofts
The Incautious Burglar – John Dickson Carr
The Long Shot – Nicholas Blake
Jeeves And The Stolen Venus – P.G. Wodehouse
Death In The Sun – Michael Innes
An Unlocked Window – Ethel Lina White
The Wood-For-The-Trees – Philip Macdonald
The Man On The Roof – Christianna Brand
The Death Of Amy Robsart – Cyril Hare
Fen Hall – Ruth Rendell
A Very Desirable Residence – P.D. James
The Worcester Enigma – James Miles.

I really enjoyed this anthology.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Forgotten Stories: English Country House Murders

  1. Jerry House says:

    I read this one a long time ago and enjoyed it very much. A great line-up.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    What Jerry said. I read this years ago, and as far as I can remember, I liked it too. But I agree with you that it is nonsense saying this is “women’s” reading. I started reading Christie (followed by Sayers and others) in 1971 and there is nothing gender specific about any of it. Now if you’re talking quilting circles or tea shoppes, that’s a different story, but country house murders? No.

  3. Like Jerry and Jeff, I read ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE MURDERS a couple decades ago. But I remember liking it. I enjoy clever puzzle stories.

  4. I read it soon after I bought it new, too. But decided to reread it recently and it held up.

  5. tracybham says:

    I have this book too, but I have not read any of the stories in it. I guess I should do that soon. My copy is hardback and does not have as many pages but the print is tiny, which has probably put me off in the past.

  6. Patti Abbott says:

    I like all the authors included so I think I would like it. Small print is a real issue now.

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