ffb: English Country House Murders Thomas Godfrey, Editor

this is the 146th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books 

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 collection. 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 collection, 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.

 ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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16 Responses to ffb: English Country House Murders Thomas Godfrey, Editor

  1. I have a copy of this book, but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad to see P. G. Wodehouse was included in this volume.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Good one. I read it in 1995, the year I started my short-story-a-day reading regimen. I like that it goes back to the beginnings rather than just the so-called Golden Age.

  3. John says:

    I’ve always wanted to read “An Unlocked Window” by Ethel Lina White ever since I saw the classic adaptation of that story on The Alfred Hitchock Hour. Now I know where I can find the story. Thanks for writing up this anthology.

  4. Richard says:

    Jeff, I read it about the same time, then went through it again for this review. It really is a very good anthology.

  5. Richard says:

    George, this is worth pulling out and reading. I’d love to read your review of it.

  6. Richard says:

    John, not just that story, but the rest of them are classics.

  7. Jerry House says:

    Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned English country house murder to make your day.

  8. Richard says:

    So true, Jerry, so true. This morning it’s grey and rainy, just right. Since I just read this one, I’m reading a collection of Appleby stories by Michael Innes.

  9. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I think I’ve read all the Appleby stories. At least I’ve read APPLEBY TALKING, THE APPLEBY FILE and APPLEBY TALKS ABOUT CRIME.

  10. Yvette says:

    Now this sounds like perfection to me. Even though I’m not normally a short story reader, I will read and usually enjoy mystery short stories especially if they involve an English country house. 🙂 I thought I’d read this collection, but reading the titles, I realized I hadn’t. Can’t wait to get my hands on this. Thanks Richard!

  11. Richard says:

    Jeff, it’s the latter book, the C&L one, that I’m reading now. Is The Appleby File in paperback, by any chance? I’m enjoying these short short stories.

  12. Richard says:

    Yvette, you’re welcome. I think you’re going to like this, it really does have all the “big names” in it and the stories are good.

  13. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a “country house murder” Clue was a movie that tried to capture that genre I guess. I watched it. Wasn’t all that fond of it.

  14. Richard says:

    Charles, “Clue” wasn’t an attempt to capture country house murder, it was a takeoff on the game. Surely you’ve read or seen Christie’s TEN LITTLE INDIANS?

  15. Barry Ergang says:

    “Between these stories lie stories by a who’s who of classic British mystery authors.” Well, all but one. Though he lived there at times and set most of his novels and short stories in England, John Dickson Carr was born and raised in Pennsylvania.

  16. Richard says:

    That’s true, Barry, I should have noted that, though the British authors are still a “who’s who” group.

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