Gilbert Adair

The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

"'Adair has indeed achieved a wonderful evocation of the “golden age” of crime.'"


It is Boxing Day, circa 1935. The scene is set in a rambling mansion on the edge of Dartmoor, snow falling from the skies, cutting off all within from the outside world. A man has just been found murdered – shot through the heart - and this is not the only mystery. The door was locked from the inside and there is no other way in or out of the attic room where the body was discovered.

The murdered man was not particularly well liked and had made a nuisance of himself during the Christmas festivities. Having managed to upset all the people gathered under the mansion’s roof, it came as no great surprise that this man had met a particularly sticky end. Some of the party seek the services of their next-door neighbour, one retired Chief-Inspector Trubshawe. However, neither Trubshawe nor the murderer could have counted on the criminal intellect of the celebrated crime novelist, Evadne Mount. It is she who is determined to unmask the killer, but can she do it before someone else loses his or her life?

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In recent years we have seen a resurgence of writers wishing to recapture those heady bygone “golden” days of excess and naivety. Adair has taken on, some would say, an even greater challenge by attempting to reproduce the type of novel that Agatha Christie could very well have written herself. Adair has indeed achieved a wonderful evocation of the “golden age” of crime. With an intriguing cast of characters, this marvellously nostalgic mystery quickly unfolds. All the classic Christie ingredients are here. The doctor and his wife make an appearance together with the local down-at-heel priest and his downtrodden wife. Also present are the aging actress and the all round American boy who ultimately gets the girl. This confection is all topped off with the brilliantly drawn major and his wife and their guest sleuth, the unashamedly gregarious Evadne Mount - who quickly steals the show! Even the snow seems to take on a personality within this novel. Obviously Adair has brought this story kicking and screaming into the 21st century so that some things that were taboo then, are aired - albeit still with some stigma attached to the subject. There have been many reproductions of the Agatha Christie theme, but this is a very well constructed and well thought out novel. All the Christie trademarks are here – right down to the big closing speech in the library, which affects the unmasking of the killer. Certainly, this isn’t Christie – but it’s as close as you’re likely to get. This book would make a perfect Christmas gift – to any “golden age” fan, or to yourself! I strongly suggest that if you know of any Christie fans, either in print or onscreen, this book is going to thrill them. Adair has even indicated that he may write a follow up. If that is the case, I, for one, will be first in the queue!

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