Fans of traditional British Mysteries are in for a treat with three novels from Wilkie Collins, A. A. Milne and Ford Madox Ford!
Included in Volume 1 of British Mystery Multipacks:
THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
Ford Madox Ford paved the way for over a century of thriller writers and film-makers who would go on to use the idea of the unreliable narrator to create mystery and suspense. Events chronicle the tragedy of Edward Ashburnham, the soldier to whom the title refers, and his own seemingly perfect marriage and that of two American friends. The novel opens with the famous line, “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.” The narrator explains that for nine years he, his wife Florence and their friends Ashburnham and his wife Leonora had an ostensibly normal friendship while Edward and Florence sought treatment for their heart ailments at a spa in Nauheim, Germany. As it turns out, nothing in the relationships or in the characters is as it first seems. Florence’s heart ailment is a fiction she perpetrated on John to force them to stay in Europe so that she could continue her affair with an American thug named Jimmy. Edward and Leonora have a loveless, imbalanced marriage broken by his constant infidelities (both of body and heart) and Leonora’s attempts to control Edward’s affairs (both financial and romantic). Dowell is a fool and is coming to realize how much of a fool he is, as Florence and Edward had an affair under his nose for nine years without John knowing until Florence was dead.
The Good Soldier is a masterpiece of early twentieth-century fiction.
''One of the finest novels of our century.'' --Graham Greene
HAUNTED HOTEL by Wilkie Collins
The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice --- or does it? Montberry's beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefactions at the root of the haunting -- or is there something darker, something much more unknowable at work?
Wilkie Collins's little known horror-ghost story of 1878 recalls his two prior triumphs The Woman in White and The Moonstone with its use of detective procedures and mystery-genre plot twists that made those two earlier novels so popular with Victorian readers.
THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY by A. A. Milne
'The Red House Mystery' is a "locked room" whodunnit by A. A. Milne, published in 1922. It was Milne's only mystery novel.
Mark Ablett has disappeared, so Tony Gillingham, a stranger who has just arrived to call on his friend Bill, decides to investigate. Gillingham plays Sherlock Holmes to his younger counterpart's Doctor Watson; they progress almost playfully through the novel while the clues mount up and the theories abound. In his introduction to the 1926 UK edition, A. A. Milne said he had "a passion" for detective stories, having "all sorts of curious preferences" about them: though in real life the best detectives and criminals are professionals, Milne demanded that the detective be an unscientific amateur, accompanied by a likeable Watson, rubbing shoulders with an amateur villain against whom dossiers and fingerprints are of no avail.
This was Milne's first and final venture into the detective and mystery genre, despite its immediate success and an offer of two thousand pounds for his next mystery novel. Milne lets his readers inside the head of his amateur detective, disregarding the clichéd romance or violence of other detective novels, as the mystery becomes a puzzling sort of parlor game for the novel's characters and readers alike.
Alexander Woollcott called ‘The Red House Mystery’ "one of the three best mystery stories of all time."