7 May 2016

Review: THE BUNGALOW MYSTERY, Annie Haynes

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • first published 1923
  • File Size: 905 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Dean Street Press (March 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01BTYR46I
Synopsis (Amazon)

“He had his tea as usual; when I knocked at the door with the tray (he always had afternoon tea), I found him—like this.”
Dr Roger Lavington is dreading his debut performance with the village amateur dramatic society. But real-world drama takes over when Lavington’s neighbour, a reclusive artist, is found murdered in his own sitting room. Also found on the scene are a lady’s glove, a diamond ring, and a mysterious young woman who begs Lavington for his protection. Her safety will depend on her ability to take a role in the forthcoming village play—but is Lavington sheltering a wronged woman or a clever murderess?

The Bungalow Mystery (1923) was the first of Annie Haynes’s golden age crime novels, and announced a major talent. This new edition, the first in over eighty years, features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

My Take

I thought this novel showed many of the characteristics of a debut title: the author trying a little too hard to provide red herrings and misdirection. The plot devolved around mistaken identity and incomplete knowledge, a train crash in which the murder suspect is thought to have been killed, a policeman who works on the case long after he has been taken off it, a vindictive wife who wants a killer brought to justice, and a central character who muddies the waters by giving the wrong advice.

There is at least one change of narrative voice and so a number of points of view are presented. The original police investigation misses gathering an eye witness statement which would have tied the whole thing up in a matter of hours.

Nevertheless it is a true forerunner of the Golden Age and the convoluted plot is well worked with a number of almost Gothic elements to it.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
UK (1865 - 1929)

Annie Haynes was born in 1865, the daughter of an ironmonger.

By the first decade of the twentieth century she lived in London and moved in literary and early feminist circles. Her first crime novel, The Bungalow Mystery, appeared in 1923, and another nine mysteries were published before her untimely death in 1929. Sadly there is no known photograph of Annie Haynes still in existence.

Who Killed Charmian Karslake? appeared posthumously, and a further partially-finished work, The Crystal Beads Murder, was completed with the assistance of an unknown fellow writer, and published in 1930.

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