An English Murder by Cyril Hare

Cyril Hare is the pseudonym of Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. Hare was an English judge and crime writer.

An English Murder was published in 1951.

The master of Warbeck Hall is dying. In his last Christmas he wants to be surrounded by what little family he has left. But without warning a silent killer strikes and starts killing off the guests one by one. To make matters worse they find themselves in the middle of a terrible blizzard that has cut off the lonely county house. Now, with a killer amidst them, the houseguests bide their time, hoping to get rescued before it’s too late.

I loved the atmosphere of the book! The time of Christmas, the utter isolation of Warbeck Hall and the reactions of the characters, it was all quite perfect.

Like most Golden Age mysteries An English Murder is also very class conscious. A female character from the lower class is portrayed as a money hungry shrew.

Among the characters Dr. Bottwink is the most interesting and likeable. The rest of the characters are interesting too. Some of them do come across as unreal but that didn’t bother me that much.

I couldn’t guess the identity of the murderer till the last few pages. There are plenty of red herrings thrown our way to puzzle us. Most satisfactory!

I loved the whole book but the solution was a little unsatisfactory. I found the killer’s motive to be too complicated and kind of unnecessary. It’s like Hare couldn’t really come up with a motive and just invented this one at the last moment.

Cyril Hare’s mysteries are not that well known which surprises me. I found his writing to be very readable.

Overall, An English Murder is a reasonably satisfying cosy mystery. I liked Cyril Hare’s story telling techniques. I wouldn’t mind reading more of his books.

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