Book: Thirteen Guests
Author: J Farjeon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Hardcover: 256 pages
On a fine autumn weekend, Lord Aveling hosts a hunting party at his country house, Bragley Court. Among the guests are an actress, a journalist, an artist, and a mystery novelist. The unlucky thirteenth is John Foss, injured at the local train station and brought to the house to recuperate – but John is nursing a secret of his own.
Soon events take a sinister turn when a painting is mutilated, a dog stabbed, and a man strangled. Death strikes more than one of the house guests, and the police are called. Detective Inspector Kendall’s skills are tested to the utmost as he tries to uncover the hidden past of everyone at Bragley Court.
Another wonderful mystery from the golden era of British crime fiction writing! Thirteen Guests starts at the Flesham station where John meets with a minor accident, and Nadine, a guest at Bragley court invites him there to recuperate. Bragley Court is Lord Aveling’s home. He has invited different people like a cricketeer, an actress, a novelist, and a retired tradesman for the weekend. John’s arrival converts the total guest count to thirteen.
Doesn’t a superstition say that bad luck falls on the thirteenth guest? Luckily for John, he isn’t the thirteenth guest to enter the court. The superstition proves itself when one of the guests meets his end. However, murder is no superstition. Murder is the result of a person hating someone enough to kill. There’s also the question of a mutilated painting. So begins the tale of mystery, and intrigue.
The author J Farjeon had me at the vivid description of Felsham station. He has beautifully portrayed the undercurrents of tension, and suspicion which follow the murder. The tension continues to rise as does the death count.
The murdered man is one of the most unlikeable men I’ve ever read. Almost everyone has a motive. But, who is the killer? The book kept me guessing till the end. John, the accidental guest, is supposed to be the only the uninvolved, but he has a secret too. Unlike most of the other mystery novels, this book has many likeable characters — gentlemen who stood up for themselves, and for their friends.
I would recommend Thirteen Guests to everyone who loves a gripping mystery. For fans of the country house murder mystery, Thirteen Guests is a must read.
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*I received this book as an advanced review copy from Poisoned Press via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.