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The Definitive Country House Murder Mystery Novel
on 2 June 2014
I picked this up because I heard that in 2013 the Crime Writers' Association voted this book as the best crime novel ever written. So, if a book has been written by the queen of crime fiction and then voted as the best crime novel ever by the Crime Writers' Association there is not much to be gained by me giving it a 5 star review - ca va sans dire - as M. Poirrot himself might say.
This novel has all the ingredients which we associate with early 20th Century crime novels. A murder in a country house with a large cast of characters. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone has a motive Everyone has something to hide. The cunning Belgian detective investigates each suspect meticulously in turn. He doesn't quite eliminate them, but instead keeps all the balls in the air until the last few pages, keeping the reader guessing till the last. We finish off with the much-copied classic scene - M. Poirrot drawing all the possible suspects together in a single room with the lines we all want to read at the end of a novel like this "I know the murderer is in this room now".
Crime Fiction doesn't get more classic than this. Even though the novel is now almost 90 years old it still reads as fresh as though it was written yesterday. There is nothing out of place and nothing dated about the writing. Perhaps most refreshingly, even though there are wealthy people and servants, there is none of the shocking upstairs/downstairs class prejudice which is seen in other fiction from early 20th Century.