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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 December 2014
Clara Benson wrote her series of books about lady detective Angela Marchmont during the Golden Age of the cosy detective novel, the 1920s. She was an Englishwoman writing her gentle,upper-crust stories purely for her own amusement. Her family knew nothing about them until many years after Benson's death in 1965, when they came upon the manuscripts.
This is as yet the only one that I have read and I enjoyed it, although no-one could describe the plot as an original one. The body of an elderly aristocrat is found in his locked study and his weekend house guests appear to harbour a murderer among them. It was pretty obvious to me who the murderer was likely to be (and I always try not to guess, since for me it spoils the pleasure of the story). The narrator is the naive and gentlemanly Charles, who is pretty slow to see the implications of the events he witnesses. Among the house guests, fortunately, is Angela Marchmont, whose assessment of events is much more shrewd..
The story is very well-written and I enjoyed the assortment of aristocratic characters. Although the identity of the murderer came as no surprise, the means by which that person was exposed was unexpected and quite intriguing. A number of the characters turn out to have secrets with a bearing on the plot and the ending is quite satisfying.
I look forward to reading the next book in the series and to discovering whether Clara Benson was able to develop her talent for writing and create more complex plots.
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on 19 July 2013
This was a real period piece, murder in a country house with a limited number of suspects. Not a demanding read and with a reasonably guessable solution, but nevertheless one which is intensely enjoyable and evokes the world of the county house party. Having read it, I was disappointed to find that there appeared to be no other books by the same author available.
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on 4 September 2014
I will be perfectly honest and admit at once that I did not like this book. It is in my view almost entirely free of any merit at all. The plot is poor and derivative. The characterisation is non existent. The writing is stilted and repetitive. The book bears absolutely no comparison to those of contemporary authors mentioned by more favourable reviewers. I understand that the writer wrote entirely as a hobby and did not intend her efforts to be published but her family decided otherwise after her death. She was a better judge that they were and this book should have been allowed to rest in well deserved obscurity in a family archive. I almost never write adverse reviews but in this case the reviewers who compare this author with some of the greats of the genre have persuaded me to do so. The book is irredeemably ordinary in the worst way.
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on 11 May 2013
I very much enjoyed reading this very excellent murder mystery featuring Mrs Angela Marchmont as the lady investigator of murder. Cleverly, the tale is told entirely from the point of view of another character in the story, which gives a very wide perspective.
I was so impressed at the authentic 'feel' of the era and was then astonished to learn that the author, Clara Benson, was born in 1890, which explained the authenticity. I should have known. Clara Benson wrote several books featuring Mrs Marchmont but remained unpublished during her lifetime. I feel that was such a shame. If any more of her works are prepared for Kindle I shall certainly be acquiring them. An author with real talent.
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on 1 October 2013
An enjoyable, nicely written whodunit from the 1920s. I prefer the writing style to Agatha cChristie but it's much lighter and less high brow than d.l.sayers. Both stories are very easy to solve from very early in the books, but still an entertaining read.
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on 28 August 2014
I wanted a period crime novel for a wet afternoon and I got this one for free. I would have been annoyed if I had paid for it. I have never read a mystery with such clearly signposted clues and I had guessed 'whodunnit' before the murder was even discovered. I did not particularly take to any of the characters. The character narrating the tale was utterly clueless and rather exasperating and his best friend seemed completely unlikeable. Even the lady sleuth wasn't especially interesting. It passes the time on a horribly wet afternoon but I will not be reading any more by this author.
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on 6 November 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very Golden Age mystery reminiscent of Christie, Sayers and Gladys Mitchell. Country house murder, appealing amateur sleuth (female and elegant), lots of suspects, plenty of motives, many red herrings. What more could an aficionado wish for? Oh yes , a literate writing style , and this is provided.
I echo a previous reviewer in wishing there were more works by this author available on Kindle. Does anyone know how many she wrote?
Highly recommended to the discerning reader of the Golden Age genre.
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on 16 December 2015
I really didn't get on with this story at all. I found the writing heavy-handed, the characters flat and boring, the mystery fairly tame and predictable. I really wanted to like it, being a fan of that era in particular, but I struggled to read it. Other people may enjoy it - and the number of high ratings suggests that many do - so ultimately it comes down to likes and dislikes.
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on 15 June 2013
A perfect book for holiday reading for the amateur sleuth, set in a country estate with genteel guests who might 'murder a G & T, but not one of their own, surely!!
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on 28 June 2014
I quite enjoyed this book, but found it rather oddly old-fashioned in style. Then I discovered it WAS in fact written a long time ago, which explained the oddities. Authors writing in their own time tend to assume knowledge on the part of readers about the current environment, and that's what was lacking. I wasn't sure of the era the book was set in and was busy deploring this lack. Only when I finished did it make sense. I'm interested enough in the old-style writing to think of reading more from this author.
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