Thursday, July 26, 2012

And Now A Cozy Mystery Review

The Red House MysteryThe Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

Okay, I am going to review a book, but being me I decided to review an older cozy mystery you might not have heard of, or maybe you have. I just know I had never heard of it before I accidentally ran across The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. Yes, it is that A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh. This was the only mystery he ever wrote, which is a shame, and although it is a fun read it is definitely not a children’s book. However, there is one point when the main character is introduced where I could almost hear Sebastian Cabot's voice...sorry had a Disney flashback, back to the book.
Because this is The Cozy Mystery Magazine I did make sure that this qualified as a cozy mystery. I went through the list so expertly laid out in Deborah Malone’s June 8th post, “What Is A Cozy Mystery??” The detective is male, but an amateur. Check. He’s in between occupations, but he’s a member of the English upper crust, and has an independent source of income so he’s not desperate for work. Check. He has a contact who is a guest at the scene of the dastardly crime, and the police don’t take him seriously so he’s free to gather clues at will. Check and check.
Let’s start with bit of literary explanation before I start my review. The Red House Mystery is what is referred to as a “locked room mystery”, where the murder takes place in a room where all the doors and windows are locked. This would make the crime seem to be impossible to commit, yet we have a dead body to contend with. So the question is not only who done it, but how was it done? This is fortunate in the case of this story, I’ll explain in a minute.
The story takes place in an English country manor called Red House. The owner, Mark Ablett is hosting a house party whose guests include such standard mystery characters as a British major, a likeable lug of an athlete, an actress with an unappreciated sense of humor…is it my imagination or is this beginning to sound like a game of Clue? Anyway, while his guests are out for a day of entertainment, the host receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from his wastrel (i.e. deadbeat) brother Robert who was shipped off to Australia years ago. Apparently that's what was done with deadbeat brothers in 1922 when this book was written. Suddenly, there is a shot in a locked room, and someone ends up dead. Fortunately Anthony Gillingham, our hero, has made an impromptu visit to Red House to meet up with his friend William Beverly, one of the guests, and manages to conveniently arrive just after the murder has been committed. So what’s he to do? Solve the mystery of course. It is only proper.
Milne creates a delightfully different type of detective in Gillingham who is eager to take on the "job" of sleuth. As I said, he’s in between occupations at this time. However, as he has never actually done it before he's on a learning curve. Fortunately, he has a natural talent for sleuthing and doesn’t mind admitting when he has gone wrong, which isn’t often. Also, Gillingham takes his new vocation very seriously as he recognizes murder to be a terrible thing. His friend, the equally likeable albeit not so cerebral William Beverly, is more than willing to play the sidekick even when the reality of solving a murder doesn’t live up to his expectations in the excitement factor. For one thing, he is quite disappointed in the evidence which appears to him to be so ordinary, and is quite surprised when his colleague refutes this notion as he considers it to be all too ridiculous. Which it is, but there’s a point to it, and that is what ultimately leads the murderer to trip up. Don’t they always?
I should warn you that although this is not an inverted mystery, the who of the "who done it" is rather obvious, even so you shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Because there are a number of tricks the author plays along the way to throw you off as to the how and the why. That’s what you really have to solve, which is fun of this book. Because in end The Red House Mystery is sort of like a game of Clue, so have a good time playing.
Don't forget about the giveaway!
By the way my personal blog is now Short Mysteries And Tall Tales.
Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.


  1. Oh goodie! I've bookmarked this on my iPad to read on Goodreads. Loved "Winnie the Pooh" - didn't read the series until I was an adult. Guess you're never too old for good lit! Thanks for the great review C. L.!

  2. Another great post, Cindy. I especially like the part where you referred to Deborah Malone's list of what a cozy mystery is. LOL I've always admired someone who could write a mystery that takes place in one setting. I don't think I could do it. This sounds like a good one. Thanks for posting.
    Debbie Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"

  3. Wouldn't you just love a Winnie the Pooh mystery? If only he had given Winnie a spyglass and a sleuthing hat...

  4. Hi Everyone. Glad you liked the post. I love looking back at these little gems. The new stuff is good too, but the oldies have a certain charm they never lose.