Another great mystery from the Golden Age of Crime.
Jim Henderson hasn’t been the luckiest of man. Being unemployed for three years left him hanging only by his social position. When the mysterious Edwin Carson, a precious stone collector, summons Jim to his country house Thrackley for a weekend party, he knows he has nothing to lose. The old, secluded, abandoned-looking house quickly reveals to be beautiful on the inside. He quickly realises that even though the other six guests are very welcoming and hospitable, they are wealthy people bathed in expensive clothes and jewels. Why was he invited to be part of such company and treated like the most honoured guest? In midst of the dark, gloomy house, a secret is hidden in the shadows and things get more interesting when its discovered that part of Carson’s jewellery collection has been stolen.
It’s a good debut mystery novel by Alan Melville. It reminded me of the Agatha Christie novel “And Then There Were None” but even so, the story is still a unique work. It’s the type of novel that you start reading, go with the flow, enjoying the ride with the voice of an authentic mystery writer voice.
The setting is a classic, the old historical house in the country, isolated from the rest of the world. The lack of connection between the characters, including the owner, makes you question and try to define a reason for all of the strange summoning’s. The house is one I would definitely like to visit. Deep in Surrey, the first impression of the house is that it’s haunted. Gloomy, covered in vine and moss, surrounded by an equality dark and gloomy forest. The description of the place gives the plot a heavy and mysterious atmosphere, which brings the mystery plot to a completely different level. The inside, however, is completely different. The house is beautifully furnished and decorated, washed in luxury. I almost associated the double appearance of the house with the two faces the characters have.
The plot is also a classic and it might seem complex in the beginning, but by the middle, it was obvious to me how things would turn out. However, the story is very nice to follow and the build-up is great. The style of writing is fluid and easy to follow. The typical vocabulary of the 20s and the English way of writing made me fall even more for the novel.
The characters are what you would expect from a high-class group. I was surprised to see a strong, intelligent female character that was more than just there to look pretty. Considering the story takes place in the 1920s, it was satisfying to see her character developed and explored in a great way throughout the novel. The main male lead, Jim, is a great character to follow. Melville made him very human, considering in depth his actions and reactions to the events around him. You enjoy being in his company throughout the book as you try to figure out why he I part of the guest list along with his best friend Fitch. Their friendship and interactions give colour to the dark world of Edwin Carson and both men bring light to the gloomy setting.
I recommend this novel to all the fans of classical mystery books and the classic murder setting.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.