The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham
The White Cottage is a nice little house, but there’s another house next door, which is not as favored by those in the village, and even by anyone who knows the owner of the other house. The man’s name is Eric and no one likes him. One day, detective Jerry, is on a drive when he meets a young woman who works near by. The house Eric lives in is a strange one, looking almost like a hospital or official building rather than a home. Not long after Jerry drops the maid off, there are screams and commotion.
Eric is dead. Shot. Half his head is pretty much missing.
What follows is a chase, across England and Europe for Eric’s killer. Was it his associate? Was it his servant? Was it the neighbors? Who the heck was it? All in all, there are probably around seven suspects, all with reasons to kill Eric. He was just a terrible person who was fond of the idea of blackmail. He knew things, about everyone and liked to keep a watch on them all. In the end, the murderer was someone who didn’t personally have anything against Eric, but associated him with Satan.
What I liked
This story started out pleasant enough. It reminded me immensely of Sherlock Holmes stories, although the detectives in this story lack that mental pizzazz that Sherlock has. It seemed traditional. If you were to watch an old mystery movie, back from the fifties, forties, whenever, this is the kind of story you might get. That all makes sense because this book was originally, serially, published in 1927.
There is apparently a whole series based on the detectives in these books. I’m not sure that I would read the whole series.
What I liked
I started getting lost with this story. In one instance one person would be interviewed by the detectives and I would wonder who in the heck the person was. Where did this suspect come from? What evidence has linked this person to the crime scene? If you took your time with this book, I’m sure you’d find it good enough, but I believe you have to pay quite a bit of attention with this book. You can’t look away for a moment. The writing style is so sparse, one sentence, two sentences, could mean missing something important. I can’t say whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because it is a matter of taste, but it is certainly something a person should be aware of.
I kind of like the who in this whodunit.
If you were to write a traditional mystery, what would your mystery be about?
Would it not be hilarious if you substituted in a cookie theft for murder in some of these old mystery books?
P.S. Margery Allingham is such a British name. I guess I can’t really say much with a name like Arterberry though.