Rebecca's Reviews > That Mainwaring Affair

That Mainwaring Affair by Anna Maynard Barbour
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Jul 01, 12

bookshelves: family-story, historical, mystery
Read in July, 2012

Wealthy British ex-pat Hugh Mainwaring has no heirs, so for his 50th birthday, he writes his will in favor of his British nephew and namesake, fulfilling years of scheming by the namesake's father Ralph Mainwaring. However, on the morning of his birthday Hugh Mainwaring is found shot dead in his private rooms, and the will has been burned. Let the complications begin!

This convoluted 19th century mystery bears all the rusty old conventions and tropes we associate with classic mysteries, which at the time were probably wildly original and gasp-producing. There's the missing heir, the deathbed conversion, the evil twin, the mistaken identity, the young lovers (who must fall in love as fast as possible, since there's not much text space available to devote to their whirlwind, probably 4 page romance), and so much more. Missing gems, early rail travel, steamer trips to England, unknown parents, soliloquizations on how a character's evil intents brought him to well-deserved justice, didactic musings on the only right way to live a life, not one but two detectives and about seven lawyers...I wished I'd had a list of characters because it was so hard to keep them straight, especially since at least a third were Mainwarings, and several had aliases as well. It was completely entertaining to read, once you just accept that it drips with Victorian morality--you can ignore that in favor of the wonderfully, ridiculously intricate plot, and I'll admit I didn't guess who did it until the end--though granted, the author pretty much abandoned the murder during the middle part of the book, which was more about the inheritance. The murder is solved in the end, though, just when you've rather forgotten about it. So, not great literature, but very entertaining.
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message 1: by France-Andrée (new)

France-Andrée I might give a go to this book just because of your review... Very entertaining and funny! Thank you.


Rebecca You're so welcome! I hope you enjoy the book. You can get it as a free audiobook at librivox.org.


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