If you don’t know A.A. Milne, he’s the guy who created Winnie-the-Pooh. If you’ve never heard of Winnie-the-Pooh, I both pity your childhood and admire your ability to avoid Disney references.
If you, like me, had a childhood speckled with stories set in the Hundred Acre Wood, you might be surprised to know that A.A. Milne also wrote a murder mystery novel, entitled the Red House Mystery. (I certainly was.) This book follows Anthony Gillingham, a man whose idea of exploring the world is trying out every possible profession. When he stumbles upon a murder, he decides to try out being an amateur detective, along with his trusty Watson, Bill Beverley.
The Red House Mystery is less of a whodunit and more of a howdunit. The suspect pool is extremely small, and one of the suspects is missing for most of the novel, so the large number of characters and suspicious motivations that you would find in, say, the average Agatha Christie is missing. However, the situation has enough inexplicable elements to keep you guessing, and the solution was a surprise to me, at least.
This is also one of the coziest murder mysteries I’ve ever read. The detective and his Watson are personable and witty characters who never lose their sense of fun. While at times we are reminded that this is serious, somebody has just died, most of the story carries a sense of ‘Oh, I say! How clever!’ There’s also a great camaraderie between Anthony and Bill, even if our Sherlock does occasionally keep our Watson in the dark at times.
All in all, if you are looking for a good old-fashioned mystery, don’t miss out this classic. The Red House Mystery has a clever plot and some charming characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it.