Summary from the back of my paperback edition:
Nigel Strangeways is off to a Christmas houseparty hosted by Fergus O’Brien, a legendary World War I flying ace now retired ... who has received a series of mocking letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day.
His guest list includes everyone who could even remotely be suspected of making the threats, including several people who stand to profit from O’Brien’s death, as well as Nigel, who is invited in his capacity as a criminal investigator.
Despite Nigel’s presence, the murder takes place as predicted, and he’s left to aid the local police in interviewing the suspects. One of them is Georgia Cavendish, a brave and colorful explorer who has been romantically linked with O’Brien ...I have always enjoyed country house mysteries, and three of the Christmas mysteries I read this year fit in that sub-genre. One attraction of that type of story is the mix of classes, and the interactions of well-to-do owners and guests, the investigators and police, and the servants of the house.
I am a big fan of the Nigel Strangeways mysteries by Nicholas Blake. I read a good number of them when I was younger, and on reading three of them in the last few months, I have found that they still entertain me. They are very well written and full of literary allusions (most of which I don't get). They are puzzle mysteries, at least the first ones in the series.
Although it is only a minor quibble, I have the same complaint for this book as I did for Minute for Murder (1947). There is too much conversation at the end about the reveal of the culprit. Once the sleuth knows who it is, I don't want the denouement to be strung out.
This is the second mystery in the series. In the first one, A Question of Proof, Nigel has several odd quirks. The one I noticed the most was that he drank a lot of tea, almost seeming addicted to his cups of tea. In this story he seem less quirky.
Blake wrote 16 mysteries in this series over 31 years (1935-1966). From what I have read the earlier books were the more formal classic mysteries of the Golden Age and his post-war books were more character driven works. I look forward to reading through them in order and following this evolution in his writing.
Nicholas Blake is a pseudonym used by Cecil Day-Lewis, who was an Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972. He was the father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Per various sources, he wrote mysteries to supplement his income and support his family.
This post is submitted for Friday's Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott’s blog. Check out posts for other forgotten books HERE and this week there are some "Best of 2016" lists also. Also this is my last entry for the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt in the "Bloodstains" category.
Publisher: Rue Morgue Press, 2009 (orig. pub. 1936)
Length: 191 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Series: Nigel Strangeways #2
Genre: Country house mystery
Source: Purchased in April 2016.