Murder at the Manor – Martin Edwards

As with so many (most) (the vast majority of) story collections, this has high highs and low lows and quite a lot in between; I can’t remember the last time I read a collection in which I loved every story. So often the way with story collections. The best thing about this one is that it provided a list of authors to be pursued later. (And a few to remember to ignore.)

There’s something about the English manor house that just cries out to have murder mysteries set in it. Wealthy people cavorting are such a tempting target, and then there are the occasional fish out of water, the person of middle–class or American or other foreigner trying to stay afloat in alien waters (that’s a mixed metaphor, isn’t it…), people sneaking around the hallways at night conducting clandestine affairs, and of course the servants who must be avoided, got around, and taken into account. Many rooms, plenty of acreage, so many places to hide – so many rooms to get locked into and then murdered.

A couple were kind of brilliant – I loved “The Mystery of Horne’s Copse”; that was a page-turner.

And I learned a couple of things. A Zingari blazer is something I’ve never heard of, but I’ve seen ’em. (They’re not forgettable.) I still don’t know what an “I.Z. tour” is, but “clock golf” is “a form of golf in which you putt from positions arranged on the circumference of a circle around the hole”. Thus endeth my annotations.

I adored the line “there stood on this table a thing not often met with in a private house in England. It was a small, portable electric fan, such as one finds on board ship or in the tropics.” Great scott! A fan! Revolutionary!

And I enjoyed the sort of meta fourth-wall-breaking “Mr. Ponderby–Wilkins was a man so rich, so ugly, so cross, and so old, that even the stupidest reader could not expect him to survive any longer than Chapter I. Vulpine in his secretiveness, he was porcine in his habits, saturnine in his appearance, and ovine in his unconsciousness of doom. He was the kind of man who might easily perish as early as paragraph two.”

Overall, very worthwhile.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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