by A.A. Milne
A. A. Milne, of the Winnie the Pooh fame, made one foray into detective fiction. He wrote a cozy for his father who was a devotee of mysteries. The Red House is a country manor, home to Mark Ablett, and a gathering place for his friends. The tranquil atmosphere is disrupted when Mark's ne'er-do-well brother from Australia comes to visit. At the same time Antony Gillingham, who is in between careers, has impulsively chosen to get off the train at Woodham Station because he likes the look of the area. Antony is man of independent means who likes to try out a variety of careers. He has been a valet, a waiter, a newspaper reporter as well as a shop assistant. He works as long as the job interests him and then he quits. Right now he does not know what career to pursue next, so he left London for a holiday in the English countryside. Antony settles into a country inn and, during a conversation with the proprietor, learns that the Red House is nearby. Antony decides to visit his friend Bill Beverley who staying at the Red House. As Antony walks up to the Red House he finds Mathew Cayly banging on the library door and yelling for Mark. Antony asks if he can help and Cayly explains that Mark was meeting with his brother when a shot was fired in the library. The door is locked. When Antony and Cayly finally break into library they find Robert dead on the floor and that Mark has disappeared. The police are called. They ask that Antony stay at the Red House along with the other guests until the inquest. At that point, Antony decides upon his next career, that of a private inquiry agent, ala Sherlock Holmes. Antony talks Bill into acting as his Watson. Antony and Bill sort through a myriad of clues and red herrings to solve this locked room mystery. The book is a fun read that received critical acclaim. Alexander Woollcott, critic for the New Yorker magazine, called it "one of the three best mystery stories of all time". Raymond Chandler called it "an agreeable book, light, amusing in the Punch style, written with a deceptive smoothness that is not as easy as it looks." -- recommended by Donna G. - Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries
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