The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair

Just finished reading The Act of Roger Murgatroyd – I know! What a book name!!  Anyway, this is not the type of book that I would usually pick up – in fact it was picked by my book club.  That being said I found it a lighthearted, amusing little romp of a detective novel that takes a bit of a dig at your average crime novel – or maybe not a dig, it’s a sort of spoof but not quite as much as a spoof – oh, the joys of being articulate!

So the book starts on Boxing Day, the body of Raymond Gentry has been discovered dead in the attic, shot through the heart – apparently in a locked room, with the murder weapon nowhere to be found.  The Manor house that sets the scene rests on the edge of Dartmoor and belongs to the Ffolkes.  A winter story, one of the worst on record for year, rages, the telephone lines are down, the roads are closed and we have a number of suspects – the guests, the Vicar and his wife, the Doctor and his wife, Evadne Mount – famous crime writer, Cora Rutherfod- ageing actress and the Ffolkes daughter and her two friends (not to mention a cast of charactes such as maids, butler, gardener, cook, etc).  Really this cast is just so cliched it’s amusing just in itself.  We are then joined by a retired Scotland Yard Chief Super who lives in close proximity to the Manor and is called on to try and assist in the absence of any official authorities.  The story then develops with all the guests becoming potential suspects with their own reasons for wanting Gentry dead.  All of them have their own secrets and all of these will be revealed.  And, added to that of course is the fact that one of them is a murderer – and apparently a murdered who is not yet content!

This book just reminds me of so many things.  I couldn’t help reading all the Evadne bits in the voice of Angela Lansbury from Murder She Wrote (I strongly deny ever watching this programme however, well maybe a couple!).  Then on top of this there were echoes of upstairs/downstairs, The Pink Panther and bits and bobs from many crime writers – all mixed in with a Cluedo like setting.

Okay, what I will say, if you’re looking for a classic novel – then this isn’t for you.  Also, if you’re expecting a serious crime novel – this also isn’t for you.  If you want some light entertainment and a quick read and you don’t mind taking a lighthearted look at crime novels in general then you may enjoy this.  The story is certainly good enough, there are plenty of red herrings scattered about and I really couldn’t help wondering how the ‘locked room’ crime had been committed.  Plus, the finale, where Evade Mount sits everyone in the library to reveal how the murder happened and who the murderer is was just so cheesy, but good!

In terms of criticisms – I found the relaying of the original stories a little drawn out – and as this was a crime book – would have liked a bit more serious interrogation.  It felt very much like Insp Trubshawe spent all his time checking out the guests’ former histories and establishing their motives for commiting a crime but he didn’t do much ‘detecting’.  I think we could have used a bit of good old fashioned ‘Sherlock Holmes’ style detective work!  Also, I wasn’t convinced by the actual murderer – in fact I was a bit disappointed with that bit – and, I sort of guessed who it was fairly early on – probably just a lucky guess but I had my mind made up – just could have done without the long winded motive.  Alos, I can think of at least two things which I think are inconsistencies – but obviously I can’t point them out because they would contain spoilers.

Now, criticisms aside, this was funny and entertaining, lightheared and easy to read.

Rating C+

The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

Spoiler below:

The Butler was the murderer.  It was a very long and convoluted reason which I won’t go into because it will take forever.

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One Response to “The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair”

  1. "Auntie" sezzzzzz...

    -clapping hands- It sounds deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious!!! 🙂

    Didn’t read the whole critique. You had me with the cliched list of cast of characters. How can I not love this book?????????????????????????????????

    But you have to stop posting these reviews of all these books, which I want to read. Not enough time. Not enough time.<—She complains, when she is in her 70's and doesn't have a job to do, or a whole family to take care of. -grin-

    Just keep up the good work Hon!

    Gentle hugs,
    “It is a joy to walk in the bare woods. The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves. The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth, Giving off the odors that partridges love.”
    ~ Robert Bly, Solitude Late at Night in the Woods

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