If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne: A review by Warren Bull





The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne: A review by Warren Bull

The Red House Mystery is the only mystery novel written by A. A. Milne. The author is, of course, better know for his writing about Christopher Robin and Pooh. Actually, Milne wrote a number of mystery short stories and these show his command of the mystery form.  After publication in 1922 the book was praised. Alexander Woollcott said it was one of the three best mysteries ever written.

Raymond Chandler, on the other hand, in an essay titled The Simple Art of Murder written in 1950 used The Red House Mystery as an illustration of how artificial and, in his words, “dull” the books were during the Golden Age of Mystery Fiction. (An earlier essay on the topic by Chandler was published in 1944.) He pointed out that if the basic premise of the plot is unrealistic, the whole work is invalid even as light fiction. He argued that, like other works of the era, The Red House Mystery depends up on contrivances and formulas. He said the amateur sleuth is only able to show his skill because the police are so incompetent. He mused about what would happen if the amateur were confronted by real homicide squad detectives.

While I believe there was some wonderful writing done in the Golden Age, there is no doubt that some novels were formulaic and predictable. The Red House Mystery certainly shows some of the issues Chandler mentioned. The sleuth and his sidekick treat the murder as a chance to seek clues and unravel secrets in fun. The murder is taken as part of the fun like a list in a treasure hunt. Nowhere was the death seen as tragic or unpardonable or a violation of the most important taboo in a civilized society. The writing is light and amusing. Milne’s skill is evident.  He presents a classic murder in a locked room where both the probable murderer and murder weapon have disappeared. His solution is ingenious. 


I enjoyed the book for it strengths. I also believe Chandler’s critique has considerable merit. I recommend it as a light read. I also recommend it as an example of the weaknesses Chandler cites.

7 comments:

Kait said...

I had no idea Milne wrote any mysteries. Sounds like Milne was training his voice for his children's books when he wrote The Red House Mystery. Pooh came out in 1926.

Margaret Turkevich said...

What a surprise, that Milne tried his hand at mysteries. I'll read the book and Chandler's essay.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I love that your bringing back some of the old Golden Age mysteries. I may have read far too many of them, but they were fun.

A.A. Milne wrote a second mystery, again very light. "Four Days' Wonder" was published in 1933 and concerns a young woman who stumbles on her aunt's body. Fearing arrest for murder, Jenny Windell flees into the countryside, where various characters aid and abet her attempted escape. It doesn't last long, hence the title.

Theresa de Valence said...

I also read THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY. 'Course I hadn't read Chandler's review before I did, so I quite enjoyed the story.

KM Rockwood said...

I know Milne was very upset he is remembered for his Winnie the Pooh books, not his other writing. He handles the language well, has a great sense of whimsy (and humor) and I think that's evident in pretty much everything he wrote.

Shari Randall said...

I just found The Red House on Project Gutenberg and will read it tonight. Then on to Chandler....

KB Inglee said...

I have wanted to read this for years but never remember that when I am in a bookstore or library. I'll give it a try.