Written by Sir William Magnay and published in 1918, this book is a classic Country House Mystery - not too difficult to guess at, but not so easy as to instantly make the reader lose interest, either.
Two friends, Gifford and Kelson, are invited to attend the annual Hunt Ball at a country house and arrive at the nearby small town in the afternoon in time to change into their evening clothes. At the same time, a stranger to whom both friends take an instant dislike arrives, claiming to have been invited to the ball as well, and insisting on sharing the same carriage from the train station to the hotel.
Because one of Gifford's cases has been accidentally forwarded on the train to another town, he has to stay behind at the hotel and wait for the case with his evening clothes to arrive.
He decides to make use of this unexpected extra time by going for a walk to the manor, which he fondly remembers as the place of many holidays during his boyhood, when it belonged to relatives of his. Later, he is described to the reader returning from his walk and clearly very upset about something.
He makes it to the ball eventually and finds Kelson, but does not see the unpleasant stranger anywhere. When the friends return to the hotel late at night, they learn from the owner that the stranger has not been seen since he set off for the ball earlier.
The next day, the hotel owner still has not heard or seen the missing guest, but the friends are not worried - he just seems to them to be the type to go adventuring with some lady. However, the stranger's adventure turns out to be a lot less fun - he is found dead in a room at the manor, with the only door locked from inside.
At first, the verdict seems to be suicide, but the stranger's brother soon arrives on the scene, convinced that his brother would have never taken his own life. At least two of the people who were present at the ball fall under suspicion; then a surprise witness turns up, a case of blackmail becomes apparent, and finally, the reason for Gifford's upset mood when he returned from his walk the previous evening is revealed.
The story would not be complete without a (very obvious) love story, but it is not a romance novel as such. The main emphasis lies on solving the mystery of how and why the stranger died - a combination of the classic Country House and the Locked Room mysteries.
I enjoyed "The Hunt Ball Mystery"; it was not very challenging (and therefore very good for my train rides to and from work), but suspension was kept at a level high enough for me not to lose interest after the first two chapters. A free ebook from the kindle shop, as you may have guessed.
the author: Sir William Magnay lived from 1855 to 1917. He was an
English Baronet; his father was Mayor of London. Magnay wrote about 25
novels, most of which were published during his lifetime. "The Hunt Ball
Mystery" and another two were published after his death. He was married
and had a son, who was a First Class cricketer from 1904 to 1911.
Another author I never heard of before... Downloaded :)ReplyDelete
You'll probably like the glimpse into the atmosphere of big country house living in the early years of the last century, Monica. Everything was so formal! Those rich people were so un-free in the way they had to dress, speak, walk, and conduct themselves at all times; women even less so than men. Sometimes I think it was probably easier in those days to be someone of average income.Delete
I always enjoy your recommendations of free Kindle books, Meike! I grabbed it....ReplyDelete
I wanted to add, I'm reading The Care and Management of Lies, a new Jacqueline Winspeare, though not about Maisie Dobbs. It takes place in the UK in WWI and I am enjoying it very much.ReplyDelete
That sounds a good read, too, thank you for recommending it.Delete
I am glad to know you liked my recommendation enough to download the book!
Oh, what a wonderful blog - so glad I stumbled upon it today! I recently discovered Librivox.org and am listening to novels by my favorite English authors. They inspire me so much while I'm creating in my studio. I used to listen to music but I love the novels so much more. Right now I'm listening to Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Not a "feel good" story, (Hardy's never are, I don't think) but I enjoy them nonetheless. Its good to get a dose of "reality" once in a while. Looking forward to gleaning more wonderful possibilities on your blog - So glad I found it/you! Cindy from TheCranesNest.comReplyDelete
Hello Cynthia, Thank you for stopping here, and welcome to my blog! Listening to novels is certainly a great idea if you like making use of the time doing something with your hands, or when you drive a lot like an ex-colleague of mine who has a very impressive library of audiobooks.Delete
I hope you'll like what you find here on my blog; it is a mixture of all sorts of things I come across in my life.
I'd never heard of William Magnay. Sounds like one for me to pursue.ReplyDelete
He is, if I may say so, not the best writer I have ever come across, but entertaining enough.Delete