Thirteen Guests is another mystery in the series of British Crime Classics which are being reprinted by Poisoned Pen Press. The superstition of the thirteenth guest comes true when murder strikes a British peer’s weekend party. Fans of classic British mysteries will love the cast of characters and the setting. This one is written in the manor house style where everyone is closeted on the same estate.
The story opens at the railway station of Flensham, a small village in the country. Nadine Leveridge is an attractive widow and John Foss is a young man who has a mishap. He gets invited to the weekend party where Nadine is going. Not having a lot of choice, John agrees to tag along to Bragley Court, the country estate of Lord Aveling. Twelve guests are expected, among them a well known but antisocial journalist, a painter, a politician, a rich couple and their daughter, and most unlikely, a couple who don’t quite look classy.
The house is full with the party and John is relegated to an anteroom. There he stays for the duration of the book, not being to get up because of a sprained ankle. There is ample staff in the house, and the Lord’s daughter is a pretty young woman who they want to marry off to the politician.
John is subjected to many unexpected conversations on his first night, as people come and go using a side door. A dog is found dead the next day, and soon another stranger is found dead at the bottom of the quarry. The police arrive and an investigation begins.
I would say that this mystery is similar to the Agatha Christie books I have read. we gradually discover that almost every character has something to hide and some vested interest in being there for the weekend. The most curious aspect of the story is that of the stranger John. Why is such a character necessary in the story? If it was just a matter of overhearing stuff from a hidden vantage point, any one of the existing guests could have been put in the same situation. Is it just to give justice to the title ‘13’? There is an invalid in the house but that person is not counted as part of the guests.
The journalist is given a bit too much importance, or maybe the author just wants to portray a journalist as a negative personality :).
Thirteen Guests will have you engrossed and will need your attention if you are to keep track of the big cast of characters. A true classic mystery!