“The Red House Mystery” was published in 1922 by A.A. Milne, who is more familiar to readers as the creator of Christopher Robin and his friends. This book has the same entertaining dialogue, quaint setting and interesting characters as Pooh Corner, but it also has a murder. In true English fashion, Lord of the Manor, Mark Ablett is the gracious host to an amusing cast of characters who come for a visit, take tea, and play billiards and croquet. The complex plot involves a dead body, a locked room, and a guest who assumes the role of detective to solve the case. In the process, a compelling set of improbable situations occur that involve secret passages, locked doors, hidden evidence, misplaced keys, deliberate misdirection, and secret identities.
I was first made aware of “The Red House” by Peter Swanson in his recent book “Eight Perfect Murders.” (Eight Perfect Murders review) “The Red House” is included on a list of the top eight books with perfect literary murders, and Swanson is certainly correct with this choice. Milne’s characters are classic and yet unique. The narrative has a timeless construction and cadence. (Although I did envision one of the characters as Winnie the Pooh) The pace is slow but deliberate, and clues are discovered in an organized and logical progression. Nothing happens by accident, and the intensity increases with each discovery. The ending is shocking yet logical.
“The Red House Mystery” is an example of the best of classic British mysteries. Thank you Peter Swanson for introducing me to ““The Red House Mystery”