I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Before there was Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robins, Eeyore and Piglet, there was murder most foul. Before there was murder most foul, there was a stint as editor of Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire published until 2002.
Now I don't see a huge influence of the murder most foul at the house on Pooh corner, but Punch definitely left its mark on The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne set out to write a traditional mystery following all the 'rules' of fair play, and he took the plotting very seriously, but that did not keep him from planting his tongue firmly in his cheek while he wrote the story. It's alive with small jokes aimed at Holmes and Watson, mysteries in general, and at the characters themselves.
As such, it's a great mystery - heaps of fun to read, if sometimes it felt a tad long. I thought to only give it four stars for this reason, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt for two reasons: I read this while flat out with hideous, unrelenting back pain, and I read the introduction. The former might be more obvious than the latter, but Milne was very careful in his introduction, to state his desire to play fair and make sure the reader had all the same clues as the amateur detective. So I might have over-focused on recognising the clues instead of enjoying the ride.
Not that it did me an ounce of good. By the time the denouement arrived I had no idea who did it or why. I can't say the ending was a massive ::gasp:: shock, but it was definitely not anti-climatic.
I wouldn't' suggest for a moment that the world could have done with less Winnie-the-Pooh, but it is a shame that Milne didn't write more than this one murder mystery. I can't help but wonder if this was his first effort, what future bafflement, wonder and entertainment he might have achieved with a bit more practice.
(For the Golden Age of Crime bingo, this could be used for Singleton, or Birth of the Golden Age of Crime)