Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death of a Unicorn” as Want to Read:
Death of a Unicorn
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death of a Unicorn

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  172 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
For best-selling author Lady Margaret, the past is no longer a pleasant memory. Her first lover's mysterious death and the seeming inevitability of her inheriting the family's stately home are cast in new light by secrets unwillingly revisited. The first in a series of reprints of Peter Dickinson's mysteries, this classic British mystery will win fans currently engrossed i ...more
Published July 12th 1985 by Pantheon (first published 1984)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Death of a Unicorn, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Death of a Unicorn

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 04, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it
I read a recommendation of this 1982 book on NPR Books. I had read many of Dickinson's books years ago and forgotten how much I love them. This one is actually not quite as good as some others. It features a young upper-class British woman who gets involved with a financier while she is working at a social whirl type magazine in the 1950s. His books are really novels of suspense rather than straight mysteries but what sets them apart is his ability to make the reader feel like he/she is inhabiti ...more
Althea Ann
Oct 09, 2012 Althea Ann rated it liked it
When I was a kid, I loved Dickinson's 'Changes' trilogy, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story set in Britain. I've read a few of his other books, including some of the short-stories he published with his wife, Robin McKinley (one of my very favorite authors), and always loved his sense of place and his capturing of the feel of mythology.
I was aware that he also wrote adult mystery novels, but hadn't read any. I picked this up thinking it was a mystery. However, it's really not. There is a murder...
A kind of miniature symphony, from Peter Dickinson, master of the alternative-style mystery of the seventies and eighties. (By which I guess I mean that subject matter and construction were often a point of departure for Dickinson; the familiar milieu of the classic English mystery provided the landscape, but he invariably has other things in mind. As author he strikes me as some eccentric Cambridge don who liked atonal music and talking to his literature students while everyone was tripping.. T ...more
Jo Woolfardis
Mar 30, 2015 Jo Woolfardis rated it did not like it
Not this one; too slow and irritating. Try another.
Dec 27, 2016 Nikki rated it it was ok
I knew going in that this was a mystery novel, and not actually fantasy — however the title might make it sound. But it doesn’t actually seem like much of a mystery novel, either, for pretty much the whole first section. It’s kind of fun in a voyeuristic sort of way — young debutante becomes gossip writer for a magazine — but the whole thing didn’t quite work for me. The narration jumps around, I didn’t like the characters, I didn’t think the footnotes were well done (they work even less well th ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
Where in the world did I get the idea to order this out-of-print book from Better World Books? I must have read a recommendation somewhere--but not from my usual sources.

It was a quirky read but very enjoyable. Lady Margaret at age 21 and at age 51 was memorable; her lover Mr. B, her sister Jane, her domineering mother, and later her daughter and son are less so. Their motivations were not always that clear to me.

An incident near the end of the book resonated with me. Lady Margaret visits an ag
Dec 02, 2013 Madonna rated it liked it
Still undecided about the book. I expected something different from Dickinson, given his reputation. And this book's recommendation.
I kept reading, waiting for the mystery to develop.
I liked the characters and their stories. I enjoyed the nods to acceptable behaviors of the times. I'm sure some of the behavior, such as becoming a mistress, for the times would cause more of a ripple than the matter-of-fact way it was reported. She didn't seem embarrassed, based on her reporting it, to report her
Jami Leigh
Feb 26, 2013 Jami Leigh rated it liked it
Shelves: paper, trad-pub, 2013
Plot: 2 stars
Characters: 2 1/2 stars
Style: 3 stars
Pace: 2 1/2 stars

I knew the streak of amazing books had to end.
I'd picked a bunch of random paperbacks off my TBR shelf to take to work with me, and I figured I'd read this one first. There were bits I started to like, but it's far more a character study in shallow 1950s bubblebrains than anything resembling a coherent narrative. The structure on this one was strange as well, leaping forward abruptly, and getting lost in side paths. I probab
Jul 03, 2014 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I don't know why this was on my "to-read" list. I'm guessing a list of recommended mysteries? I liked the time period and the had potential. But there wasn't enough development. A 20 year old woman becomes the mistress of her boss and then he dies. She doesn't look into his death. She moves on with her life. Which seems weird to me, because she says she loved him. Then 40 some-odd years later she starts wondering about things. Nothing exciting is revealed. Not worth the time inve ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Cathy rated it liked it
3-1/2 stars, really. This was a very interesting read. I orderd the book from Bookbub, intrigued by the title. Set in England in the 1950s and later in teh 1980s, it chronicles the life of a twin born into a titled family, weathly because of the estate and land, poor becuase the estate and land required so much maintenance. There is a mystery intwined in the story that slowly unfolds. The book evoked quite a lot of different emotions ranging from interest to disgust (at the actions of one of the ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it
I'm going to give this three stars because I'm not sure I really got the whole of it, as a single piece. The description is misleading: Margaret Millett's story is not about a mystery, it's about people caught between the old world and the new, before the war and after, each making their choice about where they belong and trying to make a go of it. One dies in mysterious circumstances, and discovering his story helps Margaret understand her own.
Holly Troup
Mar 20, 2014 Holly Troup rated it really liked it
I read most of Peter Dickinson's books many years ago, so when I found this book, I was eager to read it and see if Dickinson's writing still cast the same spell.
I can see why, at one time, I was seeking everything that Dickinson wrote....he is a very good writer. I was a bit disappointed that I chose this book. As I recall King and Joker and the Glass-sided Antcase had greater depth. All in all, a nice memory sojourn.
Jan 17, 2009 Polly rated it really liked it
Another odd but to me, very compelling, book. A wealthy author reflects on things that happened to her in her youth, and learns new and disquieting things about them. Somewhat similar to the Yellow Room Conspiracy, Hindsight, and The Last Houseparty by the same author, and I find all of them similarly compelling, and I don't know why. I do have a mild obsession with 20s and 30s England, and that's part but not all of it.
Oct 20, 2013 NaomiRuth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: af
This was not what I expected at all from the cover (I see why they changed it later). I'm glad I didn't know it was a "who dunit" novel, because I might not have read it. But I liked it. It was interesting. I liked the details. I didn't want to stop. It's one of those books that feels like it's going to stick around for a while.
Sep 25, 2009 Carolynne rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2016 Walford rated it really liked it
Wow. I think I read this in the mid-eighties when it was new and it's every bit as good as I remembered. Also love The Yellow Room Conspiracy.
If you like really Smart Sophisticated British storytelling, do not miss.
Jan 03, 2016 Mei rated it liked it
Not at all what I expected! Despite the title, this is not fantasy and nary a unicorn in site - wait, no, there is one. An interesting tale of a young woman that could be turned into a movie adaptation starring a young feisty actress who overcomes tragedy.
Jun 23, 2014 Hpnyknits rated it liked it
I was hoping to enjoy this much more alas- found the story disappointing. the social background and the matter of inheritance and the privilege and burden of it, were much more interesting than the "mystery."
Oct 15, 2008 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, fiction
I think I like DIckinson better when he's writing for kids. Or writing fantasy. I enjoyed this book, but I was never really struck by it or really drawn in.
A young socialite meets a mysterious older man who sets her up as a society columnist at a magazine he owns in the 1950's. The author worked at Punch magazine for many years.
Jul 05, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Two-part history of a love affair in the aftermath of World War Two.
Jun 24, 2014 Roberta rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I got a little lost in this book and had to keep checking the two time periods and the various little hints I missed but I enjoyed it. I prefer his young adult books.
Feb 02, 2011 Colleen rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, literature
it was a bit dated-but still well plotted
Linda Amos
May 09, 2015 Linda Amos rated it liked it
Very slow to take off.
Jul 09, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries, classics
Honestly, I'm not sure why this is a classic. It just didn't grab me and I wasn't able to work up an interest in the characters or the drawn out mystery.
Loved it - will review soon.
Jun 26, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Loved it - a mystery about a love story.
Penelope rated it it was ok
Nov 01, 2013
Kimmi rated it liked it
Sep 14, 2016
Patricia rated it liked it
Feb 06, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents
  • Catch and Release
  • Understories
  • The Dante Game (Homer Kelly, #8)
  • Absolute Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn
  • Encounters of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Arabian Nights Murder (Dr. Gideon Fell, #7)
  • A Speedy Death (Mrs. Bradley, #1)
  • The Ape Man's Brother
  • Five Roundabouts to Heaven
  • She Walks in Darkness
  • The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz
  • Little Caesar
  • The Mammoth Book of the Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes
  • Chiliad: A Meditation
  • Herald of Death (Pennyfoot Hotel #19)
  • No Known Grave (Detective Inspector Tom Tyler, #3)
Peter Malcolm de Brissac Dickinson OBE FRSL (born 16 December 1927) was a prolific English author and poet, best known for children's books and detective stories.

Peter Dickinson lived in Hampshire with his second wife, author Robin McKinley. He wrote more than fifty novels for adults and young readers. He won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Award twice, and his novel The Blue
More about Peter Dickinson...

Share This Book