Monday, November 11, 2013

Mavis Doriel Hay

Here's a REALLY obscure author from the Golden Age of Detection.

Excerpt from Martin Edwards's DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (11 November 2013):
[The novel] ticks a number of Golden Age boxes - the setting is Flaxmere, a country house, a floor plan is provided, and a Chief Constable is heavily involved in the detective work in the way typical of the period (think J. J. Connington in particular) but would now seem rather extraordinary.
From the University of Chicago Press site:
When it comes to Christmas stories, one typically thinks of those that embody the spirit of the season, such as O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Charles Dickens’s 'A Christmas Carol.' The Yuletide-themed murder mystery is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. But in 1936, Mavis Doriel Hay wrote 'The Santa Klaus Murder,' one of three detective novels she published in the 1930s.
A classic country-house murder mystery, 'The Santa Klaus Murder' begins with Aunt Mildred declaring that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gathering at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered—by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus—with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos.
Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond’s death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive.
Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, but in the midst of mistrust, suspicion, and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus but two.
Again from the University of Chicago Press:
If you were suddenly to be found murdered, would your friends have theories about who had done the deed? Well, when the wealthy and unpleasant Miss Pongleton meets her end on the stairs of Belsize Park underground station in 'Murder Underground,' her housemates—though not particularly grieved—have plenty of guesses at the identity of her killer.
While they’re merely airing theories, events arise that unexpectedly enable several of them, including Tuppy the terrier, to put them to the test.
Once more from the U of C:
For Miss Cordell, principal of Persephone College, there are two great evils in the world: unladylike behavior among her students and bad publicity for the college. This means it’s a very, very bad day when a secret society of her students meets by the river on a gloomy January afternoon—and finds the drowned body of the college bursar.
'Death on the Cherwell' follows the investigation, which initially focuses on the girls themselves and ultimately leads them to do some detecting of their own. Soon they uncover a tangle of secrets—and clues that point to a fellow student.

Category: Detective fiction

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