Anderson, James - 'The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy'
Do you yearn for a return to the Golden Age of crime fiction? When pretty young things smoking gaspers toddled down to father's estate for a weekend house party in the country? No gathering like this is complete without an assortment of odd bods: the annoying foreigners, perhaps an American millionaire or two, and there simply has to be the mysterious person who no one knows very well, who has managed to wangle an invitation. There is jewellery to be stolen, guests sneaking around in the dark, bumps in the night, a scream, a shot and..... not one but TWO dead bodies. Oh, and let's not forget that secret passage that the Earl shows his house-guests with great pride.
Things come to a head when the local police detective turns up to untangle the mess. People underestimate Detective Sergeant Wilkins. He's short and unprepossessing and "isn't sanguine, not sanguine at all". He confides to one of the guests that he's been told he bears a resemblance to Hercule Poirot but claims he doesn't have "the little grey cells". Yes, everyone underestimates Wilkins but he's not the country plod they all think he is.
If you like the sound of that, you'll love THE AFFAIR OF THE BLOODSTAINED EGG COSY written by James Anderson. Anderson takes a fun, ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek look at Golden Age mysteries when Dame Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers reigned supreme. Anderson manages to capture most of the conventions of the 30s English crime novel. The cast of characters could have come from any number of Dame Agatha's novels. In fact, Anderson has taken a leaf out of her book and included a cast of the main characters and a map of the house in which all the action takes place. Take note of that map. It does come in handy in keeping track of the midnight meanderings of a goodly number of the guests.
The ending is suitably edifying, with the inevitable get-together of everyone in the library (or is it the living room? It doesn't matter) to reveal who did what to whom. There are a number of crimes to be solved and Wilkins uses the ploy of accusing suspects of greater crimes to uncover the smaller. You wouldn't expect less in a Golden Age mystery tribute would you? If you do find things wrapped a bit too cleanly, with a few too many crimes, well who cares? It's all such jolly good fun.
Review reprinted with the kind permission of the author.
Sunnie Gill, Australia