Friday, 26 August 2011

Forgotten Book - The Piccadilly Murder

My choice for today's Forgotten Book is yet another novel by that extraordinarily interesting crime writer Anthony Berkeley. The Piccadilly Murder, first published in 1929, is a good example of a high calibre traditional mystery which still makes an entertaining read today.

The central figure in the book is not Berkeley's regular amateur detective, Roger Sheringham, but rather Ambrose Chitterwick, the timid bachelor whose ability to solve mysteries was demonstrated so vividly in that wonderful novel The Poisoned Chocolates Case. Chitterwick is an appealing character, and his self-effacing demeanour conceals a sharp mind.

There taking afternoon refreshment at the Piccadilly Palace Hotel, Chitterwick witnesses (or believes he witnesses) a man committing a cold-blooded murder. As a result of his evidence, a Major Sinclair is arrested and charged with the murder by poisoning of his wealthy aunt. But a group of well-to-do people, including Major Sinclair's wife, try to persuade Chitterwick that all is not as it seemed.

This is a very well constructed mystery. I have to confess that even though I have read it before (admittedly more than 25 years ago) I had forgotten the solution, and Anthony Berkeley fooled me all over again. He was a clever writer, and any fan of traditional mysteries who seeks this book out will not, I think, be disappointed.


Anonymous said...

Martin - You've chosen quite a talented author for this week's entry. Good to be reminded of his work. I just wish there were time to go back and re-read all of those good 'uns.

Pauline Rowson said...

My favourite is The Silk Stocking Murders, have read and re-read it countless times.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, you are right - so many good books, so little time. More Berkeley from me very soon!

Martin Edwards said...

Pauline, it's said that a real life murderer used the same method as in that book, but I have never been able to track down the case in question.