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The Red House Mystery: A Classic Locked Door Mystery by the Author of Winnie the Pooh [Paperback]

A. A. Milne

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Book Description

Nov. 11 2009 1449595146 978-1449595142
"The Red House Mystery" is a classic novel by Alan Milne, who is actually better known for writing "Winnie the Pooh." Set in a country home known as the "Red House," the novel opens on a party weekend, with most of the houseguests away from the house playing golf or tennis. A typical "locked room mystery," the novel features characters who may not be all they seem to be, acting for mysterious motives ranging from love to revenge. Servants overhear bits of conversation which offer clues. The discovery of a secret passage, the appearance of a ghost, and a convenient lake to hide evidence all become part of the plot. Written in 1922, before Winnie the Pooh was even born, "The Red House Mystery" was a gift for Milne's father, a retired headmaster who loved mysteries. The book was immediately popular; Alexander Woollcott called it "one of the three best mystery stories of all time", and Raymond Chandler, in his 1944 essay The Simple Art of Murder called it "an agreeable book, light, amusing in the Punch style, written with a deceptive smoothness that is not as easy as it looks."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (Nov. 11 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449595146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449595142
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 0.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g

Product Description

From Library Journal

Though Milne is immediately associated with Winnie-the-Pooh and pals, he nonetheless wrote a number of adult titles, including this 1922 novel in which guests at a country estate become amateur sleuths when a shooting occurs and all evidence points toward their host. This edition contains a new introduction by scholar Douglas Greene.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"I love his writing" -- P.G.Wodehouse --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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In the drowsy heat of the summer afternoon the Red House was taking its siesta. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  152 reviews
116 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of the genre June 17 2010
By T. S. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is probably one of the top classics of "golden age" detective fiction. Anyone who's read any mystery novels at all will be familiar with the tropes -- an English country house in the first half of the twentieth century, a locked room, a dead body, an amateur sleuth, a helpful sidekick, and all the rest.

It's a clever story, ingenious enough in its way, and an iconic example of Agatha Christie / Dorothy Sayers -type murder mysteries. If you've read more than a few of those kinds of books, you might find this one a little predictable, but it's fun despite that.

It's particularly of note, however, because Raymond Chandler wrote about it extensively in his essay "The Simple Art of Murder." After praising it as "an agreeable book, light, amusing in the Punch style, written with a deceptive smoothness that is not as easy as it looks," he proceeds to take it sharply to task for its essential lack of realism. This book -- which Chandler admired to an extent -- was what he saw as the iconic example of what was wrong with the detective fiction of his day, and to which novels like "The Big Sleep" or "The Long Goodbye", with their hard-boiled, hard-hitting gumshoes and gritty realism, were a direct response.

So this book's worth reading not just because it's "an agreeable book, light, [and] amusing in the Punch style", but also because reading it will give a deepened appreciation for the later, more realistic detective fiction of writers like Hammett and Chandler.
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murderously Fun Dec 21 2000
By M - Published on
This was the most fun I've had reading a mystery since I read the Hardy Boys as a kid. It seems you should be reading it under the covers with a flashlight. In The Red House Mystery, A.A. Milne (of Pooh fame) lets us pal around with Tony Gillingham, a jack-of-all-trades who is trying his hand a being a detective. The setting is an English country house loaded with guests, including the British major, the willful actress, and the dim-but-lovable young athlete. These are stock characters; Tony and his friend Bill even gleefully refer to each other as "Holmes" and "Watson". It's all very playful, despite the corpse. So much so that Tony and Bill are guilty about how much fun they are having.
There are tons of mentions of amateur theatricals and acting. Tony is playing at being a detective and so is the reader, which draws you into the story alongside him. In a way you are competing with Tony and Bill to solve the crime. It's a fair contest: only amateurs allowed. Milne gives you all the clues, even to the point of saying things like "This would be important later." In the reader's head a siren goes off and a sign lights up saying "CLUE". Tony and Bill bounce theories off each other and the theories change as the clues mount up. Still, Tony is always ahead of Bill (and probably the reader). He knows the real question in a mystery is not "How?" but "Why?"
The best parts are the gasps of surprise and moments of anticipation while we wait in darkness for the sounds of approaching footsteps. Milne has a great way of setting the mood, whether it's nervous tension or eager curiosity. A fun mystery is like opening up a big present: You can't wait to know what it is. Milne conveys this sense of "I need to know" in this his one-and-only mystery novel. If you're like me, you'll need to know and keep saying to yourself, "One more chapter and I'll put out the light."
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Entertaining Read Aug. 7 2000
By Steven A. Bell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Milne's only foray into writing an adult-level book (unfortunately), having written it for the sake of his father (a consummate lover of mysteries). A country side mansion is a common gathering point for several of the upper crust of British society. One of the guests invites a friend of his over to meet the host. As the friend arrives the host suddenly dies behind a locked door. Foul play is immediately suspected, but the police are stumped. Somewhat formulaic, this mystery had a couple of unexpected twists and turns which kept me guessing, until near the end, what had happened to the host (yes, even the manner of his death is mysterious). I was pleasantly suprised when I realized that all of the data to solve the mystery had been there all along, but I had missed it! This smacked a little of Christie and Holmes wrapped together (perhaps an unfair comparison, but I did enjoy this book). Well worth the purchase price. 156pp. I wish there had been more books like this from the author. A shame.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Locked-Room Mystery July 6 2010
By R. Schultz - Published on
Note: This review is of an earlier edition of the book containing an Intro by author Milne.

I was a little skeptical about Milne's ability to turn out a good book in a genre so different from his wise Pooh whimsies. I became especially skeptical after learning that this was to be Milne's one-and-only foray into the field of mystery-writing. So he wouldn't have a chance to practice his aim, to practice pulling the trigger without jerking. However as it turns out, Milne hits the bulls-eye dead-center on this one try.

In his introduction to this edition, Milne sets forth what he considers the criteria for a classic mystery - and he meets all those criteria in this engaging, quintessentially British drawing-room murder.

Although written in 1922, "The Red House" has a timeless quality. However, aside from being gently low-key, there is one other sense in which the story does depart from what's popular for most modern murders. Milne says that in order to be a classic, a mystery must feature an amateur detective, and this amateur must reach his conclusions by pure logic - leaving any "microscopes (and such) at home." The detective should only have access to information that the readers might also possess in their everyday, commonsense occupations. So there's no CSI-like reliance on the arcane habits of blowflies here.

The breezy bachelor detective, who serendipitously arrives at the house-party just moments after the murder - reaches his conclusions by way of simple mental re-enactments. When he espies something a shade unusual, he traces back and thinks of all the scenarios that could have led to that particular configuration of things and events. Why is a man's collar tossed by itself in a downstairs hamper? Why are the books in the manor-house library arranged in that slightly inconvenient way?

When Antony Gillingham and his chosen Watson sidekick arrive at the junction where all these different re-imagined scenarios intersect - they have their motive - their means - and their killer.

There are only a limited number of suspects here, so you won't be faced with having to memorize a long list of characters. This makes for an easy, but very satisfying read. This is a book every mystery-story fan should have in his or her permanent library - along, of course, with that dead body sprawled on the rug.
39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read - Kindle Edition has no Table of Contents June 26 2008
By PHL1111 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had a free version of this eBook for the Kindle but it had issues with the Table of Contents (making several hundred locations a link in the TOC as far as I could tell - but making it very difficult to know where to start reading and made me concerned about potential other problems with that version) so I decided I would spring for an official Amazon Kindle Version. There were three versions available, one version coupled with a second book called The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux. This "Public Domain" version of just the Red House Mystery and a more expensive digireads version. Since I already had a copy of Mystery of the Yellow Room I went with the digireads higher priced version.

Shortly after beginning to read the digireads version of this book I notice that many places in the book where characters were speaking that there were no quotation marks. In some places this made reading the book very difficult, trying to determine who was speaking or if it was the writer describing something.

I thought perhaps A.A. Milne actually might not have employed quotation marks when he wrote this book but having read several of his other books I did not think this would be the case just because this was a Mystery book.

So I bought this cheaper "Public Domain" Kindle version since there was no sample available and ta-dah the quote marks were there.

There is no Table of Contents in that version though. But I decided I could live without the TOC but not without the quote marks so kept this version and am about 1/3 of the way through it.

The writing is typical Milne style and I am really enjoying the "locked room" mystery written early last century and need to go back to find out whodidit.

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