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The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways #4)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  498 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Frank Cairnes, a popular detective writer who now embarks on a real-life crime of his own, determined to hunt down the runaway motorist who killed his small son Martin.
Paperback, Pan Classic Crime
Published April 9th 1999 by Pan Classic Crime (first published 1938)
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Community Reviews

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I read an out-of-print edition of this book and was amazed at how good it was. It's a genre mystery set (and written) in 1938 England. Part of the Nigel Strangeways mystery series, this was written by Cecil Day-Lewis under the pen name Nicholas Blake. Day-Lewis was a poet laureate of England and the father of Daniel Day-Lewis. The Beast Must Die (which, as a title, makes sense when you get to the end--it's from a bible passage--but otherwise makes you think the book is something else) concerns a ...more
Clever mystery with plenty of twists. I did suspect the guilty party at several points and was strongly tempted to skip to the end & check but refrained. I'm glad I didn't cheat because Blake (or Cecil Day-Lewis to use his real name) did keep me second guessing myself and threw several very plausible red herrings across the trail.

I would recommend it to any fans of the Golden Age mysteries such as those written by Agatha Christie, Margerie Allingham, Josephine Tey, Rex Stout, etc. One thing
Atilio Frasson
"Voy a matar a un hombre. No sé cómo se llama, no sé dónde vive, no tengo idea de su aspecto. Pero voy a encontrarlo y lo mataré..."

Frank Cairnes es un autor de novelas policiales que ha perdido a su hijo en un accidente, un hombre lo chocó yendo a alta velocidad y no se detuvo. Cairnes lleva un diario donde relata su investigación para hallar al sujeto y, luego, donde va escribiendo cómo realizará su venganza. Pero en el momento supremo, algo no sucede como debería y los planes de desbaratan y
This is not a typical golden age murder mystery, they are usually about solving a puzzle. There is a murder and a detective to solve it with us, but there is much more emotional involvement in the story than in most books of the type. I recommend it.
Published in 1938 and picked by the Observer as one of the 1,000 novels everyone should read, this is the fourth in the Nigel Strangeway series, following on from A Question of Proof, Thou Shell of Death and There's Trouble Brewing. It is a stand alone mystery, although characters from previous books do appear, or are mentioned; Inspector Blount was first in "Thou Shell of Death" (in which novel Strangeways also meets his wife Georgia) and a mutual friend of the main character, Frank Cairns, and ...more
La belva deve morire (1938) ha un incipit fulminante: “Ho deciso di uccidere un uomo. Non so chi sia né dove viva, non ho idea di che aspetto abbia. Ma lo troverò e lo ucciderò”. Sono le prime parole del diario di Felix Lane, un padre deciso a vendicarsi del pirata della strada che ha ucciso il suo bambino. Ma come rintracciare il colpevole quando anche la polizia ci ha rinunciato? Felix ha dalla sua la forza della disperazione e il fatto di essere uno scrittore di gialli. Così prende l'avvio un ...more
This book opens with a twist - the narrator confesses to be planning a murder. The reader soon learns that the narrator is Frank Cairnes, also known as writer Felix Lane, and the man he is planning to murder is the hit and run killer of his only son, Martie. Cairnes doesn't know who the man is yet, but he makes some pretty accurate deductions and soon has his victim in his sights.

You might think with a beginning like that, the rest of the book would be rather anticlimactic, but it's not. The fi
Nigel Strangeways is called in by a friend of a friend who finds himself accused of murder. The victim was a brute who beat his wife and intimidated his young son and had killed a boy in a hit-and-run accident; the general feeling is one of good riddance. The problem is that Nigel's friend, Felix Cairns is the father of the boy killed in the motor accident, and had been actively plotting a murderous revenge -and had described his plans in great detail in his journal. Yet it seems that the victim ...more
Les Wilson
This book was originally published in 1938 by Collins. It is part of the series that Blake wrote featuring Nigel Strangeways, an awesome private detective who gets results where the police cannot. This classic style of this murder mystery book is very different to my usual taste and it took me a while to get into it. However, once I was comfortable with the style, I found it to be really enjoyable. It was rather refreshing to read a book that was very far-from-noir and not at all gruesome and I ...more
Novela de misterio/crimen en clave de diario, conocida en Argentina por formar parte de la colección "El Séptimo Sello" dirigida por Bioy y Borges.

Antecesora de estructuras narrativas similares a las de Gone Girl o The Girl In The Train, pero notablemente superior en su escritura.

Un escritor de libros de "misterio", o podemos decir pulp fiction, pierde a su hijo en un accidente y se obesiona con buscar al responsable. El libro es el cuidado diario de cada uno de sus pasos, obsesiones, anotacione
ali rezaei
considering the time period that this book belong to, i guess the idea of changing p.o.v from first person to An omniscient narrator type is the first half of book you face with a father compulsion of murdering some one who killed her son in car accident. changing narrator,a murderer protagonist is cool and you probably have no problem with it but in second half of book, i didn't go with the twist in plot in order make in long!! nevertheless its worth to read and 3 star is fair for ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in September 2000.

A clever crime novel for its time by Poet Laureate, C. Day Lewis, The Beast Must Die is now a little obvious. This is partly because it anticipates some of the ways in which detective fiction has gone on to develop. It has one central character, Frank Cairns, and is a psychological study of a murder, like Malice Aforethought, though it seems to me that it succeeds as an analysis of the reasons for murder where that novel fails.

The novel is d
I swear, this book has one of the most amazing hooks I have ever read in a crime novel.

I am going to kill a man. I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him...

(Yes, nowadays it sounds like something Liam Neeson would say, but bear in mind that this was written in the 1930s.)

This genius hook begins a fleshed-out, sophisticated tale of revenge and how dwelling on terrible things and obsessing over vengeance can mak
Joe  Noir
"I am going to kill a man. I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him ...”

It was this opening paragraph that made me instantly want to read this novel, right there in a bookstore with no air conditioning, just a standing fan blowing on a humid 95 plus degree day.

Written in 1938 by Nicholas Blake, pseudonym of Cecil Day-Lewis, poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968-1972, and father of Academy Award winning
Ant Harrison
After an engaging start I struggled a bit with The Beast Must Die. The story of Felix Cairns and his attempt to avenge the death if his young son in a hit-and-run car collision begins in the form of a personal diary of events, before switching to a third person narrative through the eyes of Nigel Strangeways, a sort of private investigator. From this point onward it started to feel a bit leaden and forced, not helped by a lot of upper middle class lingo from the main characters.

Lots of willing
Francisco Acuna
Borrowing from the "puzzle approach" of the Detective Golden Age novels, the Beast Must Die is deemed already as classic in this genre. The author does a super job in recreating the atmosphere of interwar England, its characters and mannerisms. This is an enjoyable read that avoids gory violence and rather emphasizes the ability of the brain to solve a crime. Worth a read!!!
More like three and a half, although I guessed the plot twist really early on; marking down a bit (almost a four) because Georgia does not get much chance to be awesome but simply helpmeety.
Another good mystery with Nigel Strangeways as detective, nice twist interesting characters and story line. Hope to get hold of more of these thrillers.
Genial obra de misterio, que nos brinda en el mismo libro la pista mas importante: el diario escrito por uno de los sospechosos.
Published in 1938 and a little dated--but well-written (the author is really poet-laureate C. Day-Lewis), with good characters and a meticulously constructed plot. This is the British mystery during its heyday by one of its best practitioners. The first half is the diary of a man tracking down and planning to murder the hit-and-run driver who killed his little son. The second half recounts the murder and then the traditional investigation. Not just an early version of Columbo--far, far more comp ...more
Tom Meade
The structure of this book is marvellous. The first part consists of the lead suspect's diary up to the day before he plans to commit his murderous act of vengeance, while the latter parts consist of the murder investigation as it is undertaken by a very strange man named (appropriately enough) Nigel Strangeways who is hired by the lead suspect (himself a professional writer of mystery novels) to prove his innocence. All in all a hell of a lot of fun, even if the case was, as Strangeways himself ...more
Nicholas Blake made the CWA top 100 with his Nigel Strangeways novel The Beast Must Die. The novel begins with crime writer Frank Cairnes hunting down the killer of his infant son, with deadly revenge on his mind. Cairnes is a sympathetic character despite his murderous intent and you end up hoping he succeeds. There’s a largish twist in the middle and a big one at the end. Only the improbability of Cairnes’ success in finding his victim keeps it from getting five stars.

Full review
Ann Repetto
pleasant, clever (though not unexpected) outcome
Rog Harrison
I first came across this series about thirty years ago and I think I have read all of them. I was pleased to see this in the library and get the chance to read it again. The first part of the book is the diary of a would be murderer and is a bit dark though things become slightly more lighthearted when Strangeways enters the scene.
Mehdi khani
این مرد همۀ این کارها را با اراده ای مثال زدنی انجام می دهد؛غرورش هولناک است؛غرور و حسِ هنرمندانه اش در موردِنقطۀ اوج قادرش می سازد از پس هر کاری برآید،از پس پیروز شدن بر جسم ناتوانش:ما همه زیر فشارهای تحمل ناپذبر می خواهیم موقعیت را مهیج و داستانی کنیم-این راهی برای نرم کردن واقعیت سخت است.راهی برای تحمل پذیر کردنِ حد اعلای تألم
A well-written story about revenge, with a good twist I really didn't see coming. It was hard for me to read because of the setup -- I felt so very, very bad for the narrator -- but it was quite well done, and much better paced than a lot of Blake's novels are for me.
This is actually a 3 and half. I thought that this was a FANTASTIC plot. However was so stressed out reading it that it wasn't an enjoyable read for me. I will definitely read more Nicholas Blake.
A great beginning but peters out later.

Complete review here:

Not bad, the setup of the plot is interesting, and the switch from letters to third person kept me going at the half way point.
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Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of poet Cecil Day-Lewis C. Day Lewis who was born in Ireland in 1904. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Cecil Day-Lewis and his wife Kathleen (nee Squires). His mother died in 1906 and he and his father moved to London where he was brought up by his father with the help of an aunt.

He spent his holidays in Wrexford and regarded himself very much as anglo-irish, al
More about Nicholas Blake...

Other Books in the Series

Nigel Strangeways (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • A Question of Proof (Nigel Strangeways, #1)
  • Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways, #2)
  • There's Trouble Brewing (Nigel Strangeways, #3)
  • The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)
  • Murder with Malice (Nigel Strangeways, #6)
  • The Corpse in the Snowman (Nigel Strangeways, #7)
  • Minute for Murder (Nigel Strangeways, #8)
  • Head of a Traveler (Nigel Strangeways, #9)
  • The Dreadful Hollow (Nigel Strangeways, #10)
  • The Whisper in the Gloom (Nigel Strangeways, #11)
A Question of Proof (Nigel Strangeways, #1) Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways, #2) The Corpse in the Snowman (Nigel Strangeways, #7) End of Chapter (Nigel Strangeways, #12) The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)

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“I see you have the advantage of me,' he said. 'Very well. I'll make it as brief as I can. I'll tell you the plain facts and I only hope you won't draw the wrong conclusions from them. George Rattery had been making advances to my wife for some time. She was amused, intrigued, gratified by it - any woman might be, you know; George was a handsome brute, in his way. She may even have carried on a harmless flirtation with him. I did not remonstrate with her: if one is afraid to trust one's own wife, one has no right to be married at all. That's my view, at any rate.” 1 likes
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