By J. Jefferson Farjeon
Rating 3/5 Stairs
Originally published in 1936, Thirteen Guests takes us back to the Golden Age of Crime with this story set in the English Countryside.
Twelve guests arrive to Bragley Court for a hunting weekend with Lord Aveling and his family. John Foss makes an unexpected thirteenth guest when he is injured at the train station and, with no where else to go, brought to the estate to recuperate. Laid up on the couch, John becomes an outside observer of the party.
Thirteen Guests began very slowly for me. Mr. Farjeon spends a lot of time (almost half the book) setting up events before a mysterious body is found, identity unknown, in a ravine near Lord Aveling’s estate. While this is the standard on many mysteries from the 1930’s (to set the stage and give the reader the opportunity to play detective), there were so many characters in this book (thirteen guests plus four Avelings plus staff) that I started to feel a little lost among them.
Once the body was found, the pace of the book quickened and I really enjoyed it. Journalist Bultin begins investigations into the death before Inspector Kendall arrives on scene. While the men have different reasons for wanting to solve the murder (journalism versus justice), they each follow different leads on the case, and their banter was fun when they shared information.
Mr. Farjeon put together a very clever puzzle. Small pieces become important to the overall story, and the end was very satisfying. I’m glad I hung in there through the beginning, the mystery and investigation was worth it.
2 thoughts on “Thirteen Guests – A slow start but a satisfying ending.”
This makes me long to go back in time and reread many mysteries written in this particular mode; I love it, although you make an excellent point in writing so much time was spent is setting up the scene, the characters and the plot; I am now wondering if this is just a sign of our times ( to get things as rapidly as possible) or were the writers of the past simply long winded with their craft.
Thanks for this – hadnt realised these books were on netgalley! Off to have a look now as I really enjoy the books the BL are producing