Tuesday, October 12, 2021

#1976Club: Home to Roost

Home to Roost by Andrew Garve isn't a straightforward mystery or detective story, more of a suspense novel. This is the first book I have read by this author. I was fascinated by this book, and I will be reading more of Garve's novels. This is the first book I read for the 1976 Club, hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings.


These are the first sentences of the book:

This is an account of how Max Ryland got himself murdered, and what happened afterwards. For obvious reasons, the manuscript will not see the light of day until all the people concerned are dead and forgotten; I have taken steps to ensure that. You may think, dear reader, that as a story it builds up rather slowly but -- so does a hurricane.

Walter Haines narrates this book. He has written an account of his marriage to Laura Franklin and what happens afterward. First he gives us some background of his early life. He starts out as a newspaper reporter, but leaves that to try writing novels, and eventually does well enough to support himself with his writing. Then he meets Laura. They get married, and the early years of their marriage are happy. After a few years their marriage becomes shaky, for a variety of reasons. 

At a cocktail party they meet the charming and well-known actor, Max Ryland. The three become friends, and Walter and Laura visit Max's weekend home on the coast, where he has a sailboat. Soon, Max has enticed Laura to leave Walter. Nothing unusual in that, except that very shortly it is obvious that Max has been using Laura, and she leaves him also. A few weeks later, Walter goes on a vacation to Portugal to attempt to recover from the end of his marriage to Laura. When he returns, he finds that Max Ryland has been found dead at his house on the coast.

It turns out that Max is a real cad and has many enemies, and there are plenty of suspects, but Walter is at the top of the list. Unfortunately, for the police, Walter's alibi is very good. Then another man confesses to the murder, and Walter decides to confess also, saying that he does not want someone else to pay for his crime. He provides proof that he could have carried out the crime. Neither man will withdraw their confession. 

My thoughts:

This is a very short book, under 200 pages, with a very complex plot that can be confusing, but it a concise story with no padding thrown in. I enjoyed it a lot and found many things to like.

Although the subject is serious, the story is told with subtle humor, in the descriptions of Walter's life and the events leading up to the disintegration of his marriage.

At least in this book, Andrew Garve was a very good plotter and could tell a good story, but wasn't strong on developing characters. However, since the story is told in first person, we do get to know Walter Haines, the narrator, very well. 

The ending of this book is ambiguous, and some reviewers criticize that aspect. In this case, that aspect did not bother me at all. I feel that the author leaves it up to the reader to decide, and that worked for me.


Andrew Garve is a pseudonym of Paul Winterton, who wrote over 40 detective and adventure books between 1938 and 1978. This was close to his last published book. Paul Winterton also wrote as Roger Bax. I have more of his books to try, No Tears for Hilda and Murder through the Looking Glass by Andrew Garve, and Blueprint for Murder as Roger Bax. All of those are from much earlier in his writing career.

Also see:


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Publisher:  Penguin Books, 1978 (orig. pub. 1976). 
Length:     182 pages
Format:     Paperback
Setting:     UK
Genre:      Crime fiction
Source:    I purchased this book.

24 comments:

Cath said...

Every murder mystery book you review tempts me, Tracy. LOL! I love the sound of this one. Enjoy your 1976 experience.

TracyK said...

I hardly felt I was doing this book justice, Cath. I enjoyed it so much, it was my kind of mystery with a difference.

CLM said...

Good choice! Kate Jackson suggested it but my copy is still on the way via ILL so it won’t reach me in time. My parents read Garve years ago but I doubt I ever read this. Glad you enjoyed.

TracyK said...

Constance, it is funny that you should mention that. I could have sworn I saw of a list of 1976 books by Kate but I looked recently and all I could find was her review.

I was very glad I included this in my 1976 reads because I have found a new vintage author to check out.

Sam Sattler said...

This sounds really interesting, Tracy. I'm not familiar with the author; he seems to have completely slipped through the crack for me. I like his opening, and the way he rather slyly meets any potential reader criticism about the book getting off to aa slow start. Definitely worth a look, and now I want to know more about the writer, too.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm glad you found a lot to like with this one, Tracy. You've now got me thinking about books where more than one person confesses to a crime. Thanks for the 'food for thought.'

Rick Robinson said...

Tried but DNF’d the one Garve I tried, The Galloway Case, and haven’t bothered trying another.

BTW, just returned two more books to the library, unread. Sigh.

TracyK said...

Sam, I know I have heard of this author over the years and I have bought books by him here and there, but I had forgotten the connection between his various pseudonyms, so I am glad I finally read one of his books. I think he is a very interesting writer and according to what I have read, there is a lot of variety in his books, which is a good thing. I hope you find something of his to try.

Kate said...

Thank you for mentioning my review. Glad you enjoyed this one. Garve wrote mysteries in a range of styles, so quality can be varied, but I have read a number of good ones by him. Plotting can sometimes be simple, but the characterisation is usually pretty strong. He also wrote under the name Roger Bax.

TracyK said...

Margot, I hope you find some other examples of books with more than one confession. I wonder how often that has happened (in fiction).

TracyK said...

Kate, as I noted in my comment to Constance, I really thought I had seen a list of good mysteries of the 1970s (or something like that) at your blog and that is what motivated me to read it. But later I could just find your review, which is excellent. I found this a hard book to review without telling the whole story, which of course one doesn't want to do.

I do have one book by this author written as Roger Bax. I will read the three I have, and then look for more.

TracyK said...

Rick, I haven't heard of The Galloway Case, but then I did not know much about this author before I read this book.

Sorry to hear you are still having so issues with reading. My reading has been slow this month, partly I have been focused on Glen's cataract surgery. His status is improving but the doctor wants to check again in two weeks before he get measured for glasses, because the swelling needs to go down more.

Kate said...

Hmm I don't think I have ever written a post about 1970s mysteries, mainly as I don't often enjoy them. I know I put two suggestions in a comment on Twitter to do with books for the 1976 club. I might have mentioned some of Garve's books in tweets of my own too.

TracyK said...

Kate, It must have been some other blog. I will be checking out your other reviews for Garve's (or Bax's) books.

Bookertalk said...

The ambiguous ending wouldn’t be an issue fir me either. I quite enjoy books where the author leaves wharpt happens next to your imagination

Neeru said...

I have read just one Garve and didn't enjoy it but I have read reviews praising his work and so have a few books of his on my TBR. Will add this to it:)

TracyK said...

BookerTalk, I like the unexpected in a book. So when the ending is ambiguous I just look at it as a different variety or style of writing. Not something I want in every read, but every now and then, it is nice.

TracyK said...

Neeru, I have recently read a lot of good reviews of Garve's books. They each seem to be a bit different, although I did read that he recycled some of his stories, or parts of them, under different pseudonyms. I look forward to trying more of them.

col2910 said...

Sounds good and I reckon I would enjoy it, but really - do I need to buy it when it's a 90% probability that I'll bury it and ignore it. Better I dig out an existing owned '76 book from the stacks!

TracyK said...

Col, I was surprised how many books I had on my shelves and in boxes that were published in 1976. I bet you do too.

kaggsysbookishramblings said...

Great choice for 1976! I have read some Garve and liked it, and also have some of his Paul Winterton books on Russia TBR. Really should dig them out! :D

TracyK said...

Kaggsy, I had read that he wrote books about Russia (fiction and nonfiction?) that were very good. I will follow up on that.

Simon T (Stuckinabook) said...

Glad you enjoyed this one! I love that the club tells me about authors I'd never heard of.

TracyK said...

Simon, if the 1976 Club had not motivated me to read this one, I could have let his books that I have sit for many more years. Now I will be trying more of his books.