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Malice Aforethought [Paperback]

Francis Iles
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

7 April 2005

On a balmy summer's day in 1930 the great and the good of the county are out in force for the annual, much-anticipated tennis party at the Bickleighs, although not everyone has much enthusiasm for the game. The tennis party exists for other reasons - and charmingly mannered infidelity is now the most popular pastime in the small but exclusive Devonshire hamlet of Wyvern's Cross.

Which is why, in his own garden, the host, Dr Edmund Bickleigh, is desperately fighting to conceal the two things on his mind: a mounting passion for Gwynfryd Rattery - and the certain conviction that he is going to kill his wife . . .

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Malice Aforethought + Before the Fact (Arcturus Crime Classics) + Trial and Error (Arcturus Crime Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (7 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752864785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752864785
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A classic crime masterpiece - soon to be a major TV adaptation

About the Author

Francis Iles is the pseudonym for Anthony Berkeley Cox, but it is for his two widely-acclaimed masterpieces, MALICE AFORETHOUGHT and BEFORE THE FACT, both written as Francis Iles, that he is most famous. Iles was also a literary reviewer for the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Guardian. He died in 1971.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic of crime fiction. 15 Aug 2000
By A Customer
Right from the first sentence, this book grips you and won't let go. I can't say anything about the plot without giving it away, so I'll just say that it will turn your expectations upside down. At one level, it is light and witty, but there's a menacing, disturbing undercurrent. Even though it's now nearly seventy years old, this book is still as fresh and original as if it were written yesterday. Most modern crime writers would give their right arm to create something this good.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evergreen classic 9 April 2002
This masterful suspense thriller takes the unusual route of revealing the killer from the very first sentence. From that moment on, the reader is drawn into the mind of the hen-pecked, unfufilled doctor, his dreams of self assertion, his creative desires, and longing to escape his overbearing wife.
Iles is able to glean from the reader sympathy for his main character, in spite of the circumstances. The novel contains one of the most unusual, totally gripping finales ever written.
Superbly dramatised in the late '70's, this is a masterpiece of crime writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Counter Jumper 16 April 2009
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Groundbreaking when compared to it's peers, in that the culprit is revealed in the first sentence. The drama is then why did he do it, how did he do it and will he get away with it? The latter point is the most contentious issue for me but like other reviewers I shall say nothing.

It is a brilliant description of life in a stifling class-ridden Devonshire village in the inter-war years. People who say 'Ay' instead of 'I' and who regard the protagonist G.P. as a 'counter jumper'. It's a great evocation of a John Betjeman world where people play tennis every five minutes and Miss Joan Hunter Dunn seems ready to appear for strenuous singles after tea.

The style can sometimes seem dated but quaint; get ready for sentences regularly 80 words or more long! The novel also touches on Freudian themes for motive claiming it is down to the doctor's 'egotism', his belief that he is unique and can therefore get away with his crime. Iles couples this with a deep, bitter class resentment which seems wholly justified.

The ending is one which should provoke discussion. Personally, if it had gone one way I would have given this five stars for a novel which would have been light years ahead of its time. I think Iles couldn't carry a 1920's/1930's audience all the way and so I settle for four stars. Sorry to be cryptic about this but read it and you will understand.

It is quite a contrast to Agatha Christie. Treat yourself and buy it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malice Aforethought 12 July 2003
A delightful comedy (for this is its main strength, not the fact that it was the first "psychological thriller"-and I have my doubts about this fact: didn't Mrs. Belloc Lowndes anticipate Cox?). Dr. Bickleigh, a philandering medico suffering from an inferiority complex, determines to rid himself of his wife, a bullying and domineering shrew, in order to marry his mistress-who announces her engagement to another man immediately after the murder. (Of course, his "ingenious" plan is immediately seen through by the other villagers.) Superb wit: excellent social satire-St. Mary Mead steeped in venomed ink, with plenty of amusingly catty back-biting and splendid caricatures. Berkeley at his most acerbic is highly amusing, in small doses-like aconitine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well drawn characters 1 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good old fashioned murder- an easy read with well drawn characters-great for a wet sunday afternoon beside the fire.
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