Mystery review: ‘The Mystery of Underwood House’ by Clara Benson

Posted August 21, 2015 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

I enjoyed the first book in the Angela Marchmont series of country-house cozies set in the twenties, but to my mind this one worked a lot better. I didn’t guess the identity of the murderer, for one thing (although that particular character was definitely on my list), and this one felt much more satisfyingly complex. It also features Angela Marchmont, the lady detective herself, as the point of view character, which I think works much better than having her as a side character (as in the first book).

Following her success in the previous murder, Angela is called upon by her friend Louisa to investigate her husband’s family. After his father’s death, a rather peculiar will left money to the four children only for their lifetimes, after which it reverts to the family solicitor. Now three of the four have died in mysterious circumstances. Is it murder? And if so, who is responsible?

This sort of book follows a very predictable pattern, which anyone who’s read any Agatha Christie will recognise. There is an array of suspects with motives, secrets gradually revealed and (possibly) another murder or two before the detective (and reader) works it all out. This is an excellent example of the genre, with a wonderfully literate writing style evocative of the period which makes the read an enjoyable ramble rather than the more frenetic pace of modern murder mysteries. Recommended for those who like their cozies quaintly old-fashioned. Four stars.


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