The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks By James Anderson

This charming English mystery is just a thrill. It is very Christie in the feel of the writing as well as the setting – an English manor in the middle of the countryside. You could imagine Miss Marple or Poirot wandering around the rooms but this mystery has an enterprising young lady of the house wanting to help the local plod. Oh boffo I say! The stage is set with extended members of one family all converging after an event.

We have already begun to see into each of their lives and their problems as the author has skipped around each character and given us some individual background. They do not know each other well at all, although related in some way, and spend a lot of time catching up before the inevitable murder. There are all kinds of bumps in the night, screams and crashes but which are clues and which are the ‘poisson rouge’ as my family would say? ‘I ain’t telling’ but I can say the story is kept very well all the way until the last few pages. I must say I did expect a little romance with the copper and the daughter of the house but maybe that’s in another story.

Anyway the reason for the gathering is a funeral and ultimately a reading of the will. All who inherit have been invited and the tension mounts in anticipation of who gets what. One of the members of the family is extremely perturbed by what they inherited and let the whole group know it, leaving a very awkward scene indeed. There is no love lost between several of the family and the murderer could literally be anyone. Now don’t get me wrong it is not as if they are throwing useless clues around but each member has a colourful past with financial debt, frivolous affairs and general dislike for other people. The settings especially the manor are described beautifully but not overdone. I personally don’t want to read pages of descriptions of trees and foliage otherwise I’ll read poetry and the author certainly doesn’t do that. If anything there is a tendency in the beginning of the book to give a little too much detail regarding the characters but that is necessary for setting the whole story up and giving us a lot of reasons why some of the suspects behave in the way that they do.

I am not sure if Anderson has written any other books but I will certainly read them if he has as I was engaged throughout this lovely story. It is always interesting to read a story from a different time than the one we are living in and try to imagine what life was like especially with respect to modern technology.

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