The Red House Mystery

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Droll, finely crafted whodunit from one of England's most popular writer's sparkles with witty dialogue, deft plotting, and an amusing cast of characters. Amateur detectives Antony Gillingham and his chum Bill Beverley investigate the disappearance of their genial host after a mysterious shooting, come upon secret passageways, discover underwater evidence, and more. A rare gem that will charm mystery lovers, Anglophiles, and general readers alike.

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2002 Trade paperback Good. Go green, recycle! Book may have wear from reading, may contain some library markings. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 202 p. Intended for a ... young adult/teenage audience. Read more Show Less

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The Red House Mystery

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Overview

Droll, finely crafted whodunit from one of England's most popular writer's sparkles with witty dialogue, deft plotting, and an amusing cast of characters. Amateur detectives Antony Gillingham and his chum Bill Beverley investigate the disappearance of their genial host after a mysterious shooting, come upon secret passageways, discover underwater evidence, and more. A rare gem that will charm mystery lovers, Anglophiles, and general readers alike.

In the tradition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, this mystery by the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh book is set in the English countryside in a stately British mansion with an abundance of characters and curious clues.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Though Milne is immediately associated with Winnie-the-Pooh and pals, he nonetheless wrote a number of adult titles, including this 1922 novel in which guests at a country estate become amateur sleuths when a shooting occurs and all evidence points toward their host. This edition contains a new introduction by scholar Douglas Greene.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579247027
  • Publisher: Jones, Bob University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Pages: 202
  • Sales rank: 638,646
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Alexander Milne (18 January 1882 - 31 January 1956) was a British author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various children's poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work.

Biography

It seems strange that A. A. Milne would have not have wanted to be associated with one of literature’s most beloved characters. Having achieved some success as a playwright and novelist, he aspired to be more than only an author of children’s books.

However, Milne’s books -- Winnie-the-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, and the verse collections When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six -- are hardly typical of most stories for kids. They remain among the smartest of the genre, and were likely written as much for himself as for his young son, Christopher. Infused with a sly wit, they contain humor that only an adult can appreciate; indeed, some of the poems in When We Were Very Young first appeared in the satiric magazine Punch, where Milne was an editor.

Rendered by illustrator Ernest H. Shepard in quaint, warm watercolors, Pooh and friends Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore, and Piglet star in stories about playing games and helping friends in and around their home near “100-Aker Wood.” In one instance of Milne’s ironic humor, a sign outside Owl’s residence reading “PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD” is attributed to Pooh’s boy companion Christoper Robin, “who was the only one in the forest who could spell.” The books are written with sophistication and a certain amount of dry British wit, employing turns of phrase (“customary procedure,” “general remarks”) not usually found in children’s stories.

The volumes of verse range over a wider collection of themes, with Pooh appearing in just a few poems. Most of them offer a young person’s perspective on subjects such as imaginary friends, feigning illness, and going to the zoo; and it’s evident how Milne’s work prefigures that of Dr. Seuss (From Going to the Zoo: “There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons/A great big bear with wings/There’s sort of a tiny potamus/A tiny nossarus too”). Other poems feature cowardly knights, buffoonish Sirs, and other fantasy figures.

Little of Milne’s work for adults, which included the autobiography Year In, Year Out and his first novel, Lovers in London, can be easily found in print. One adult title, however, is still being published: the pleasing Gosford Park-style Red House Mystery.

Pooh, meanwhile, continues to grow as a powerful franchise, with modern-day titles, animation, and games that are almost as delightful as Milne’s original texts -- but not quite.

Good To Know

Milne did not set out with any particular desire to write for children: The Pooh books were originally intended for the real Christopher Robin, Milne’s son.

Milne’s teacher and mentor was the scientist and writer H.G. Wells.

He edited Cambridge’s undergrad paper, Granta, and was later the assistant editor of Punch.

Milne wrote several plays that are no longer published, but were once quite popular, including as Mr. Pim Passes By and the Kenneth Grahame adaptation Toad of Toad Hall.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alan Alexander
    2. Hometown:
      Cotchford Farm, Sussex, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 18, 1882
    2. Place of Birth:
      Hampstead, London
    1. Date of Death:
      1311956
    2. Place of Death:
      Cotchford Farm, Sussex, England

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Mrs. Stevens is Frightened

In the drowsy heat of the summer afternoon the Red House was taking its siesta. There was a lazy murmur of bees in the flower-borders, a gentle cooing of pigeons in the tops of the elms. From distant lawns came the whir of a mowing-machine, that most restful of all country sounds; making ease the sweeter in that it is taken while others are working.

It was the hour when even those whose business it is to attend to the wants of others have a moment or two for themselves. In the housekeeper's room Audrey Stevens, the pretty parlour-maid, re-trimmed her best hat, and talked idly to her aunt, the cook-housekeeper of Mr. Mark Ablett's bachelor home.

"For Joe?" said Mrs. Stevens placidly, her eye on the hat. Audrey nodded. She took a pin from her mouth, found a place in the hat for it, and said, "He likes a bit of pink."

"I don't say I mind a bit of pink myself," said her aunt. "Joe Turner isn't the only one."

"It isn't everybody's colour," said Audrey, holding the hat out at arm's length, and regarding it thoughtfully. "Stylish, isn't it?"

"Oh, it'll suit you all right, and it would have suited me at your age. A bit too dressy for me now, though wearing better than some other people, I daresay. I was never the one to pretend to be what I wasn't. If I'm fifty-five, I'm fifty-five--that's what I say."

"Fifty-eight, isn't it, auntie?"

"I was just giving that as an example," said Mrs. Stevens with great dignity.

Audrey threaded a needle, held her hand out and looked at her nails critically for a moment, and then began to sew.

"Funny thing that about Mr. Mark's brother. Fancy not seeing your brother forfifteen years." She gave a self-conscious laugh and went on, "Wonder what I should do if I didn't see Joe for fifteen years."

"As I told you all this morning," said her aunt, "I've been here five years, and never heard of a brother. I could say that before everybody if I was going to die to-morrow. There's been no brother here while I've been here."

"You could have knocked me down with a feather when he spoke about him at breakfast this morning. I didn't hear what went before, naturally, but they was all talking about the brother when I went in--now what was it I went in for--hot milk, was it, or toast?--well, they was all talking, and Mr. Mark turns to me, and says--you know his way--'Stevens,' he says, 'my brother is coming to see me this afternoon; I'm expecting him about three,' he says. 'Show him into the office,' he says, just like that. 'Yes, sir,' I says quite quietly, but I was never so surprised in my life, not knowing he had a brother. 'My brother from Australia,' he says--there, I'd forgotten that. From Australia."

"Well, he may have been in Australia," said Mrs. Stevens, judicially; "I can't say for that, not knowing the country; but what I do say is he's never been here. Not while I've been here, and that's five years."

"Well, but, auntie, he hasn't been here for fifteen years. I heard Mr. Mark telling Mr. Cayley. 'Fifteen years,' he says. Mr. Cayley having arst him when his brother was last in England. Mr. Cayley knew of him, I heard him telling Mr. Beverley, but didn't know when he was last in England--see? So that's why he arst Mr. Mark."

"I'm not saying anything about fifteen years, Audrey. I can only speak for what I know, and that's five years Whitsuntide. I can take my oath he's not set foot in the house since five years Whitsuntide. And if he's been in Australia, as you say, well, I daresay he's had his reasons."

"What reasons?" said Audrey lightly.

"Never mind what reasons. Being in the place of a mother to you, since your poor mother died, I say this, Audrey--when a gentleman goes to Australia, he has his reasons. And when he stays in Australia fifteen years, as Mr. Mark says, and as I know for myself for five years, he has his reasons. And a respectably brought-up girl doesn't ask what reasons."

"Got into trouble, I suppose," said Audrey carelessly. "They were saying at breakfast he'd been a wild one. Debts. I'm glad Joe isn't like that. He's got fifteen pounds in the post-office savings' bank. Did I tell you?"

But there was not to be any more talk of Joe Turner that afternoon. The ringing of a bell brought Audrey to her feet--no longer Audrey, but now Stevens. She arranged her cap in front of the glass.

"There, that's the front door," she said. "That's him. 'Show him into the office,' said Mr. Mark. I suppose he doesn't want the other ladies and gentlemen to see him. Well, they're all out at their golf, anyhow--Wonder if he's going to stay--P'raps he's brought back a lot of gold from Australia--I might hear something about Australia, because if anybody can get gold there, then I don't say but what Joe and I--"

"Now, now, get on, Audrey."

"Just going, darling." She went out.

To anyone who had just walked down the drive in the August sun, the open door of the Red House revealed a delightfully inviting hall, of which even the mere sight was cooling. It was a big low-roofed, oak-beamed place, with cream-washed walls and diamond-paned windows, blue-curtained. On the right and left were doors leading into other living-rooms, but on the side which faced you as you came in were windows again, looking on to a small grass court, and from open windows to open windows such air as there was played gently. The staircase went up in broad, low steps along the right-hand wall, and, turning to the left, led you along a gallery, which ran across the width of the hall, to your bedroom. That is, if you were going to stay the night. Mr. Robert Ablett's intentions in this matter were as yet unknown.

As Audrey came across the hall she gave a little start as she saw Mr. Cayley suddenly, sitting unobtrusively in a seat beneath one of the front windows, reading. No reason why he shouldn't be there; certainly a much cooler place than the golf-links on such a day; but somehow there was a deserted air about the house that afternoon, as if all the guests were outside, or--perhaps the wisest place of all--up in their bedrooms, sleeping. Mr. Cayley, the master's cousin, was a surprise; and, having given a little exclamation as she came suddenly upon him, she blushed, and said, "Oh, I beg your pardon, sir, I didn't see you at first," and he looked up from his book and smiled at her. An attractive smile it was on that big ugly face. "Such a gentleman, Mr. Cayley," she thought to herself as she went on, and wondered what the master would do without him. If this brother, for instance, had to be bundled back to Australia, it was Mr. Cayley who would do most of the bundling.

"So this is Mr. Robert," said Audrey to herself, as she came in sight of the visitor.

She told her aunt afterwards that she would have known him anywhere for Mr. Mark's brother, but she would have said that in any event. Actually she was surprised. Dapper little Mark, with his neat pointed beard and his carefully curled moustache; with his quick-darting eyes, always moving from one to the other of any company he was in, to register one more smile to his credit when he had said a good thing, one more expectant look when he was only waiting his turn to say it; he was a very different man from this rough-looking, ill-dressed colonial, staring at her so loweringly.

"I want to see Mr. Mark Ablett," he growled. It sounded almost like a threat.

Audrey recovered herself and smiled reassuringly at him. She had a smile for everybody.

"Yes, sir. He is expecting you, if you will come this way."

"Oh! So you know who I am, eh?"

"Mr. Robert Ablett?"

"Ay, that's right. So he's expecting me, eh? He'll be glad to see me, eh?"

"If you will come this way, sir," said Audrey primly.

She went to the second door on the left, and opened it.

"Mr. Robert Ab--" she began, and then broke off. The room was empty. She turned to the man behind her. "If you will sit down, sir, I will find the master. I know he's in, because he told me that you were coming this afternoon."

"Oh!" He looked round the room. "What d'you call this place, eh?"

"The office, sir."

"The office?"

"The room where the master works, sir."

"Works, eh? That's new. Didn't know he'd ever done a stroke of work in his life."

"Where he writes, sir," said Audrey, with dignity. The fact that Mr. Mark "wrote," though nobody knew what, was a matter of pride in the housekeeper's room.

"Not well-dressed enough for the drawing-room, eh?"

"I will tell the master you are here, sir," said Audrey decisively.

She closed the door and left him there.

Well! Here was something to tell auntie! Her mind was busy at once, going over all the things which he had said to her and she had said to him--quiet-like. "Directly I saw him I said to myself--" Why, you could have knocked her over with a feather. Feathers, indeed, were a perpetual menace to Audrey.

However, the immediate business was to find the master. She walked across the hall to the library, glanced in, came back a little uncertainly, and stood in front of Cayley.

"If you please, sir," she said in a low, respectful voice, "can you tell me where the master is? It's Mr. Robert called."

"What?" said Cayley, looking up from his book. "Who?"

Audrey repeated her question.

"I don't know. Isn't he in the office? He went up to the Temple after lunch. I don't think I've seen him since."

"Thank you, sir. I will go up to the Temple."

Cayley returned to his book.

The "Temple" was a brick summer-house, in the gardens at the back of the house, about three hundred yards away. Here Mark meditated sometimes before retiring to the "office" to put his thoughts upon paper. The thoughts were not of any great value; moreover, they were given off at the dinner-table more often than they got on to paper, and got on to paper more often than they got into print. But that did not prevent the master of The Red House from being a little pained when a visitor treated the Temple carelessly, as if it had been erected for the ordinary purposes of flirtation and cigarette-smoking. There had been an occasion when two of his guests had been found playing fives in it. Mark had said nothing at the time, save to ask with a little less than his usual point--whether they couldn't find anywhere else for their game, but the offenders were never asked to The Red House again.

Audrey walked slowly up to the Temple, looked in and walked slowly back. All that walk for nothing. Perhaps the master was upstairs in his room. "Not well-dressed enough for the drawing-room." Well, now, Auntie, would you like anyone in your drawing-room with a red handkerchief round his neck and great big dusty boots, and--listen! One of the men shooting rabbits. Auntie was partial to a nice rabbit, and onion sauce. How hot it was; she wouldn't say no to a cup of tea. Well, one thing, Mr. Robert wasn't staying the night; he hadn't any luggage. Of course Mr. Mark could lend him things; he had clothes enough for six. She would have known him anywhere for Mr. Mark's brother.

She came into the house. As she passed the housekeeper's room on her way to the hall, the door opened suddenly, and a rather frightened face looked out.

"Hallo, Aud," said Elsie. "It's Audrey," she said, turning into the room.

"Come in, Audrey," called Mrs. Stevens.

"What's up?" said Audrey, looking in at the door.

"Oh, my dear, you gave me such a turn. Where have you been?"

"Up to the Temple."

"Did you hear anything?"

"Hear what?"

"Bangs and explosions and terrible things."

"Oh!" said Audrey, rather relieved. "One of the men shooting rabbits. Why, I said to myself as I came along, 'Auntie's partial to a nice rabbit,' I said, and I shouldn't be surprised if--"

"Rabbits!" said her aunt scornfully. "It was inside the house, my girl."

"Straight it was," said Elsie. She was one of the housemaids. "I said to Mrs. Stevens--didn't I, Mrs. Stevens?--'That was in the house,' I said."

Audrey looked at her aunt and then at Elsie.

"Do you think he had a revolver with him?" she said in a hushed voice.

"Who?" said Elsie excitedly.

"That brother of his. From Australia. I said as soon as I set eyes on him, 'You're a bad lot, my man!' That's what I said, Elsie. Even before he spoke to me. Rude!" She turned to her aunt. "Well, I give you my word."

"If you remember, Audrey, I always said there was no saying with anyone from Australia." Mrs. Stevens lay back in her chair, breathing rather rapidly. "I wouldn't go out of this room now, not if you paid me a hundred thousand pounds."

"Oh, Mrs. Stevens!" said Elsie, who badly wanted five shillings for a new pair of shoes, "I wouldn't go as far as that, not myself, but--"

"There!" cried Mrs. Stevens, sitting up with a start. They listened anxiously, the two girls instinctively coming closer to the older woman's chair.

A door was being shaken, kicked, rattled.

"Listen!"

Audrey and Elsie looked at each other with frightened eyes.

They heard a man's voice, loud, angry.

"Open the door!" it was shouting. "Open the door! I say, open the door!"

"Don't open the door!" cried Mrs. Stevens in a panic, as if it was her door which was threatened. "Audrey! Elsie! Don't let him in!"

"Damn it, open the door!" came the voice again.

"We're all going to be murdered in our beds," she quavered. Terrified, the two girls huddled closer, and with an arm round each, Mrs. Stevens sat there, waiting.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    recomend

    Enjoyed it much; easy reading. Read it at
    every opertunity.
    If you like who done it books this is a good one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 17, 2011

    Wonderful Book!

    This is an excellent book. It kept me guessing the whole way through. I love the Pooh stories. However, this is one of my favorite books that Milne wrote!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Good book, bad text

    At first, i hated the horrible text problems created by scanning. Soon, however, i learned to read around the corruptions and actually began tlo enjoy them. For example, the na me of the victim, robert, was corrupted many different ways -- as bobert, bohert, bobcat -- and it seemed as if everyone had their little pet name for the guy. That and other corruptions were actually amusing. The book itself is quite a charming cozy intelligently written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    The Red House

    I found this book to be unreadable due to lack of proper punctuation, cardboard characters and a silly plot. I gave up after two chapters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    An intelligent book for intelligent readers

    Mr.Milne never fails to deliver

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    Anonymous

    Three words boring boring boring not a good read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2012

    Great book!

    I loved this story The copy was a bit difficult, but puzzleling words were the biggest problem

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    Digital copy unreadable

    This copy looked more like computer code with nonsense words throughout. Even the title at the bottom of the page had something like "bte red ...msbry" Completely unreadable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2011

    No no

    Illegible; could barely stomach the first sentence

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2010

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