The Act of Roger Murgatroyd
ISBN: 9780571226382

I borrowed this book because the cover cited a review: “very funny and very clever”.

And it was.

Early on, you’re reminded of the game Cludo (I wonder if people still play that).

A dinner guest of the Colonel has been shot dead. His body was discovered in a room locked from the inside, and with no other apparent exit other than the door. The mystery was that no one knew how the crime was committed.

The Colonel invites a retired police inspector, Trubshawe, to lend a hand. The bulk of the novel has the inspector interviewing the dinner guests: a Vicar, a novelist, an actress, a doctor and his wife, the Colonel’s daughter, his daughter’s male friend. There’s a twist near the end before the mystery was solved (I won’t say what this twist was; it’ll spoil your fun).

Adair has a knack, in this book (I’ve not read others), of building up suspense. Even when getting the Vicar to confess his ‘Great War’ secret, he manages to produce several pages of verbal meanderings from the Vicar, but skillfully rather than make the novel tedious.

Some great observations of real-life:
P64. “For a while it seemed as though everyone was waiting for someone else to speak first, exactly as it happens at many a pubic lecture, whose listeners, visibly aching to interrupt the lecturer with their own opinions, opinions just as passionately held as his, suddenly seem to be struck dumb when questions are thrown open to members of the audience.”

Very believable dialogue that fleshes out the characters. Like the aged actress Cora Rutherford who is equally flamboyant in character and words (short of me copying the text here, you really ought to read it yourself to know what I mean).

Chapter 14. The Denouement (or “the Reveal”).