This was Margery Allingham’s first detective story, originally serialised in the Daily Express in 1927. Margery Allingham was one of the beloved writers of the Golden Age of Crime alongside Agatha Cristie, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Croft, Father Ronald Knox etc.
Like every classic Golden Age of Crime novel “The White Cottage Mystery” features an impossible murder, a love story, a noble detective, a suspicious inheritance and demons from the past. There are a lot of charming ladies struggling to do “the right thing”. There is a man who fought in the war and a villain with a cockney accent; a nanny, who is obsessed with her charge and simple but arduous “house staff” who reveal snippets of information about their masters at exactly the right time.
When Eric Crowther is shot to death Chief Inspector Challenor and his son Jerry are involved in solving the crime. Moments before the crime is committed Jerry drives past the White Cottage giving one of its inhabitants – charming Nora – a lift. As Jerry and his father dig deeper into the lives of the people present in the house at the time of the murder, they realise that
anyone could have killed Mr Crowther.
He was a vile man who enjoyed nothing more than collecting peoples’ secrets and torturing them with what he knew.
The novel was, perhaps, fast passed for its time but it lost a bit of it’s shine at present. The emotions are a bit over the top; the dialogue a tad stifling.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book the same way I’d enjoy watching a black-and-white movie from the fifties. Or the same way I crave Shepherd’s pie every now and again. “The White Cottage Mystery” is comfort food for the mind.
J.K.Rowling claims her favourite Margery Allingham’s book is “The Tiger in The Smoke”, so I’m off to check out that next.
I’m grateful for this book to Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.