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

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


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.


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.