Tuesday, August 23, 2011

18: The Red House Mystery

Tonight was parent night, and I was at work from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. I'm all worn out!!

The Red House Mystery
A.A. Milne
Published: 1922

Why?: This is Milne’s only mystery novel (he’s most famous, of course, for the Winnie the Pooh books), and it’s a shame that he didn’t revisit the genre. While the ending suffers from something of a cliché, the writing is a lot of fun, and he has wonderful descriptions that bring on the requisite chuckles. The mystery is well-developed, and I couldn’t figure out the entire solution until the very end, which is unusual. There are signs of this book in other writing, such as P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, and it doesn’t owe as much to the Holmes stories as many mysteries of the time do (despite the characters referencing them, Milne avoids the Watsonian narrator).

Gist: The story begins in the bachelor home of Mark Ablett, with the visit of his little known and black sheep of a brother, Robert. When Robert is abruptly murdered, an unfortunate passer-by named Antony Gillingham is drawn into the mystery.

Quote: “Directly I saw him and I said to myself--” Why, you could have knocked her over with a feather. Feathers, indeed, were a perpetual menace to Audrey.

“He is an important person to this story, so that it is as well we should know something about him before letting him loose in it. Let us stop him at the top of the hill on some excuse, and have a good look at him.”

Bonus Trivia: Milne was a huge fan of mystery fiction, and wrote that he preferred amateur detectives to the growing genre of professionals and P.I.s that were developing in American fiction. His affection for the Holmes stories is pretty obvious, as the two amateur sleuths refer to themselves as Holmes and Watson more than once!

Perfect For: Milne fans who want a surprise, and mystery fans. The language is very accessible to modern readers from ages 12 and up.

Genres: Fiction, Novel
Mystery, Classic


  1. I did not know he wrote a mystery novel. I will definitely be reading this! Thanks for the tip.

  2. I didn't know until I was researching the history of mysteries. I've become something of a early to mid 1900s era British mystery nut (I do not believe I could say that three times fast!) and have been loving getting them free on Kindle.