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Mystery in White

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,214 ratings  ·  564 reviews
On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea – but no one is at home.

Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.

Kindle Edition, British Library Crime Classics, 256 pages
Published September 28th 2014 by The British Library (first published 1937)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,214 ratings  ·  564 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
The golden age of mysteries, which included Nero Wolfe, Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christies. All authors I have read though not for many years. This author was apparently a very successful member of that group, but I had never heard of nor read him before. This book was re-released recently and I was captivated by the cover and the title.

I forgot how fun these books are, the days before CSI, no forensics, DNA, computer data bases. Just plain, good old detecting, using the evidence in front of
Nov 28, 2016 marked it as british-crime-library-classics
The Hook - Last December I participated in an Elfster Holiday Swap with some book loving friends. Imagine my delight when I received two British Classic Christmas Crime Mysteries from across the seas from a Tracey in the UK. I saved both for this Christmas season and just finished the first.

The Line - ”Miss Noyes”, replied Lydia, “suppose this house belonged to you, and you returned to it after the world’s worst snowstorm, would you rather find your larder empty or seven skeletons?

The Sinker -
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
3.5 stars for Mystery in White by J Jefferson Farjeon, the second book I have read by this author.

On Christmas Eve a snowstorm rages. A group of disoriented travellers who, somewhat unwisely, have abandoned their stranded train, have stumbled upon a deserted house. But a deserted house where a bread knife lays on the floor, the kettle is boiling, the fires are lit and tea is laid.

I really enjoyed most of this book. It was not until we got to the final chapters that it all began to wear a little
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Once again I'm pleased to have read a re-release of a late 1930s classic mystery, Mystery in White, that combines elements of many other classics (many that had not yet been written!). There is the journey of a disparate group on Christmas Eve; the train stuck in the storm on the tracks; some passengers who decide to strike out for a nearby rail station despite the storm. And then the deserted, yet welcoming, country house. Are there ghosts or are there humans to beware of. Many questions and a ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This Golden Age mystery was first published in 1937. It is Christmas Eve and a group of people are stranded on a train after heavy snow. There are a good cast of characters, including an elderly bore, a psychic, a brother and sister, a young office clerk and a chorus girl travelling to an audition. The psychic, Edward Maltby, decides to leave the train and attempt to find another station and he is soon followed by others from his train carriage. Indeed, eventually the travellers find themselves ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Captivated by Thirteen Guests (1936), I wasted no time downloading the only other J. Jefferson Farjeon novel I could find in the Kindle format: Mystery in White, first published the following year. This novel proved even better than the first — and that’s saying something! Dorothy L. Sayers called Farjeon “unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures,” and he certainly proves it in Mystery in White!

Led by the intrepid and perspicacious Edward Maltby, 60 years old and a proud member of
Samuel Bigglesworth
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was great! Fast paced read of Noir style. For me, as good as the Orient Express. This is a great cosy Christmas read. People who review on Goodreads have often read so much that nothing is original to them, and they are hard to please. Is that fair to say? Anyhow, if you are looking for social political commentary that will blow your mind and change your life look elsewhere. If you just want a damn good read pick this up!
Julie  Durnell
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england-uk, mystery
I loved this book, maybe it's just the right time of the year to read a snowbound mystery at Christmas but it was great! A bit of gothic, a bit of supernatural and a real entertaining read-I'm thinking it would make a wonderful movie in light of the Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express remake.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bobby Underwood
Jul 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to mark this one as finished because I'm not finishing it. I read a lot of 30s and 40s books, so it wasn't the style so much as the execution. I know some love this book but it was just boring to me. It had the potential to be one of those fun when you're in the mood for it kind of books, but became harder and harder to ever get in that mood, because I didn't care about any of these people and the constant verbal interaction between the characters I couldn't warm to made it rough ...more
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The highly successful reissue of this book in 2014 by the British Library initiated not just a series of classic-era crime reissues by the BL but a revival of interest in classic crime novels in general.

It's Christmas Eve, and a train gets stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere. Some of the passengers attempt to walk to the nearest station, get lost, and find themselves at a house where the fires are lit in the grates, the kettle's boiling on the stove, the table has been set for tea . . .
Moonlight Reader
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
This has little in common with Murder on the Orient Express, aside from the whole train in winter thing.

This is my second British Library Crime Classic by J. Jefferson Farjeon. I previously read Thirteen Guests, which was a traditional English Country House murder. I preferred Mystery in White to that one, but I have yet to find one of these BLCC mysteries that comes close to a Christie or a Sayers. I suppose that is, in part, why they are long out of print and need to be "rediscovered."

Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
THE first thing David did on emerging from the front door was to pitch head first into a mound of snow. For a moment or two he nearly suffocated, while countless soft, icy pellets invaded his back as though he were being bombarded by silent salvos from heaven. Then he scrambled out, and strained ears choked with snow for a repetition of the shout. Already he had lost his sense of direction, for all he could see was a bewildering succession of snowflake close-ups, almost blinding vision. During ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-dunnit, christmas
Stranded on a train in a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, a group of passengers decide to walk to the shelter of a nearby station, but stumble instead upon an unlocked house in which they find blazing fires, a table set for tea and a well stocked larder.....but no inhabitants.
There is plenty of mystery here, lots of melodrama and atmosphere, and a diverse cast of characters....throw in a sprinkling of the supernatural, and you have an entertaining, seasonal whodunnit, which is nicely old fashioned.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: vintage crime lovers
Shelves: owned-bookcase
This book is an excellent example of what it is - an old fashioned, well written 'whodunnit' with a wintry/Christmas theme.
It's exactly what I was looking for!
Mystery in White (1937) by J. Jefferson Farjeon finds a train full of people stuck in an unexpectedly heavy winter storm as they are on their way to various Christmas destinations.. It's a situation very familiar to fans of the Golden Age mystery story. But Farjeon gives the scenario a deft twist from that of Christie's Orient Express. Instead of keeping everyone snugly in place on the trapped train, he sends them out into the wintry whiteness. After they've been stuck for what seems an ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What better to settle down with as Christmas approaches than a crime story set over the two days of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That is what J Jefferson Farjeon provides us with and the word 'Mystery' in the title is the operative word. The reason for this is that oft times when the goings on in the plot are very much a mystery to the reader!

A train is stranded in snow and for some inexplicable reason a group of passengers decided to embark and try to walk to a nearby station to see if
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good read. A little slow moving as can happen in this genre.
I did enjoy the range of characters. Once the action picked up a bit it moved very quickly and before you knew it...well it was 2 am on Christmas.
I would strongly suggest this for a Christmas Eve read by the fire!
Patricia Kaiser
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I usually really enjoy a classical detective story such as this one without any DNA, internet, video,...aspects but in this case there was no point at which I was really interested in the story or the characters. Everything felt too planned and the solution to all the murders was the most banal one with unrealistic motives. Still an easy read and festive audio book.
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This classic mystery has been reissued and is all over Waterstone's this season. The cover alone is reason to buy the book, very stylishly evocative of the 1930s. The story keeps the promise of the cover -- a cozy, though faintly menacing, mystery involving a group of people who abandon their carriage on a snowbound train and strike out through a blizzard, hoping to get to a nearby station. Instead, they gratefully stumble on a country manor, where they find fires blazing in hearths, a meal laid ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I liked this cosy murder mystery set in a snow storm on Christmas Eve in 1930's England.

I enjoyed this on audio; sometimes I laughed out loud (I'm not sure this was intended by the author!) at the overly dramatic conversation and reactions enhanced by the narration.

You probably wouldn't be able to solve the murder from the beginning as you are drip-fed facts and happenings to suit but I didn't mind that at all.

There were a few eye-rolling moments but in a good-humoured way.

It's a bit of fun and
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as I expected. First of all, I assumed it was a whodunit, and it's not. The nature of the mystery only becomes clear very late into the book, and by then I was quite frustrated. I'd say it's more like a campfire mystery, with mostly unpleasant characters telling the tale. The setting was original enough, but other than that, it's not a very good crime novel.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, holiday
A different spin to the 'manor house murder' subgenre. The few paranormal aspects to this were just the right amount to lend a certain spookiness to the story while not stretching my credulity too far.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who wish to read a ‘peculiar’ Christmas mystery.
Imagine a train caught in a blizzard! Passengers traveling to Christmas destinations are at a dead stop with massive amounts of snow blocking the tracks in both directions, and the snow continues to fall. J. Jefferson Farjeon’s 1937 Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story’s setting is a ‘white-out’! Some passengers are about to bolt from the train because a few ‘blow hard’ passengers in their car are driving them to distraction. It is Christmas Eve, and a small group of younger travelers on ...more
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually 3 1/2 stars rounded up. When will Goodreads get 1/2 stars?

I love vintage crime novels and mysteries. I think they have a distinct feel, a sense of time and place that is sorely lacking from many new books, which often just strive to be outrageous and/or gory. It's fun to discover authors I haven't read before. J Jefferson Farjeon published books from 1924 to 1955, the year of his death. In his day, he was a popular writer, admired by Dorothy L. Sayers, who said, "Jefferson
Somewhere between a 2.5 and 3 star -- I think if you like this kind of mystery with the isolated closed circle trope and you like the classic mystery vibe, this is perfectly fine. Just nothing too memorable for me, and I did struggle with the writing style a bit.
Eleanor (bookishcourtier)
This was enjoyable, but some of the plot points were a little lazy and weak in my opinion. rtc
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
this is a book of its time. the language is very Noel Coward and after a while it did start to grate a little. I really wanted to enjoy this book, set in an old house in the middle of a snowstorm on Xmas eve, a group of strangers come together and solve a mystery. What isn't there to like? it just gets very staid, instead of the action revealing what is happening there is a lot of talking and thinking which reveals the plot. the ending did get a bit confusing because of the telling of it, and ...more
Dec 18, 2016 added it
This is really fun, full of creepy moments: faint noises behind locked doors and footsteps suddenly appearing in the snow. It's pretty fast-paced, explores detective novel character types and gives a little nod to the traditional Christmas ghost story too. Definitely one to read by the fire during the holidays.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very atmospheric and mysterious with a great setting for Christmas. It's not really a typical Golden Age Mystery in that you can't follow all the clues through to a solution but I think you just have to go with the flow and see where it takes you.
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Joseph Jefferson Farjeon was always going to be a writer as, born in London, he was the son of Benjamin Leopold Farjeon who at the time was a well-known novelist whose other children were Eleanor Farjeon, who became a children's writer, and Herbert Farjeon, who became a playwright and who wrote the well-respected 'A Cricket Bag'.

The family were descended from Thomas Jefferson but it was his
“I am not sure that I could explain in a way you could understand," replied the old man. "We judge life by our own reactions and sensations, and the reactions and sensations of others are often mere incomprehensible theories.” 5 likes
“That is why any general, however wrong he may be--take Napoleon, to avoid the politics of mere contemporary examples--must believe in himself to be successful, or dupe himself into such a belief. Indeed, that is the main job of all politicians who, through their own inefficiency, muddle nations into war. If they do not fool themselves into the assumption that they are God-fearing idealists, they will never get the millions who must pay for their damage to believe the same thing, and they will lose the war.” 4 likes
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