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A Most Contagious Game

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  42 reviews
When a London businessman retires early and buys a Tudor mansion, he's quite surprised--and perhaps even a little pleased (retirement being pretty boring)--to find a skeleton hidden in a secret room in the house. The skeleton appears to be more than a 150 years old, so the local police leave it to the homeowner to solve the mystery. The police are much more interested in s ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 181 pages
Published June 11th 1982 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1967)
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  290 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

Fans of Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time would probably enjoy this stand-alone novel from Aird. Both novels feature a semi-invalid protagonist who spends his time solving the mystery through research, deduction and (yes, it must be said) conveniently available clues.

As to the mystery involved, there were actually 2 running concurrently: one murder from the past and a current murder from the area. The mystery from the past was my favorite, and involved a 50+ hig
Nancy Oakes

In its own way, A Most Contagious Game reminded me a bit of Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time. Both have elements of historical fiction, and both involve the solving of murders from the past. Tey's hero thinks he has solved the mystery of who really killed the princes in the tower (viz Richard III); the hero in Aird's book comes upon a skeleton in a priest's hole he discovers in his home. After being told that the skeleton is probably about 150 years old, the main character sets about us
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wendy & Bethany
This is a huge favorite in my family, resulting from our devotion (literally) to Edmund Campion and Nicholas Owen (my nephew is named after him) and is generally considered to be Aird's best book as well as a classic mystery. Happily, it is back in print.

The story begins with a retired couple, the Hardings, buying a house "to get away from it all" in, and soon they learn that their home has a secret reaching back to the 16th century. In contrast to a secret from the past, which is one of Aird's
Robert Palmer
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a heart attract Thomas Harding & his wife retire to the country in an old manor house.He discovers a secret room that contains a body about 15 years of age.
The room is a priest hole from the time of Elizabeth 1 . This was not a good time ( mid 1500s to early 1600s) to be Cathlic in England. Harding sets out who the boy was & why he was murdered & hid in the Priest hole.At the same the local police are searching for Alan Fenny for the murder of his wife.Harding gets evolved in t
Sep 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Shelves: mysteries
"The Most Contagious Game" is a stand alone novel by Catherine Aird. It follows a retired man who finds a skeleton while trying to have his home rewired. It seems the skeleton is about 150 years old, and so the police don't care who the murderer is, but our hero, Tom does. Soon, he is able to piece together the motive for the killing, and so discovers the killer. In the meantime, the police are trying to solve a modern murder, with the suspect in hiding. The two mysteries entwine, and so our her ...more
This book is very similar to Josephine Tey's "Daughter of Time." A wealthy man is recovering from a heart attack in his new (to him) but otherwise extremely old house. He discovers a skeleton in a priest's hole, and slowly researches how it ended up there. I've gone and made it sound all dry, but really it's not — Aird did a brilliant job at atmosphere in this book. She slowly generates tension and makes the historical characters alive as we learn about them. If your favorite part of a tradition ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do enjoy the style of British mysteries. I think I find them comforting. This solves a 150 year old murder of a teenage boy and new murder of a young married woman. Thomas and Dora Harding retire to Manor House of Easterbrook because of his heart health. Even though I'm not normally a history person the way it was presented in this book worked for me. Interesting right up until the last page.
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Most Contagious Game has so many things that I enjoy in a mystery - it's set in an English village, there is a hidden room, and fun characters. This is a stand alone book by the author of the Inspector Sloan series. It being a stand alone book is my only complaint. I really enjoyed spending time with these characters and want to learn more about what happened to them.
Linda Rowland
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plucked this from shelf in my shop. Not sure where it came from but did enjoy it. Older British mystery. Knocked a star for odd interpretation of U.S.
Do we all drawl to the British ear?
Do they understand that we do not use titles?
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 1/2 stars, this was a struggle for the first 120 pages or so, then everything happened extremely rapidly and the conclusion was a bit underwhelming in addition to a lot of easy guesswork for some of the mystery.
Jenn Estepp
Pretty sure that this was a goodreads recommendation and, based on this and a few others, I should start paying more attention to what the algorithms say. Very entertaining mystery, mixing the modern (well, 1967, when it was published).
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely British village mystery, old style. Reminiscent of the Daughter of Time.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, own
This was a wonderful book! A true cozy, complete with hidden rooms, spooky sounds and happenings and a superb cast of characters. This may have been the author's third book, but it isn't the third Inspector Sloan installation. Rather, it is a stand alone story. It also has the makings of a wonderful who-dunnit cozy mystery. It flowed easily, the characters were well rounded and the plot well explained at each stage of a discovery.
This book has become one of my top 3 favorite cozys and I have no
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Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Serendipity is what brought me to this book - walked past the university book exchange today and stumbled upon it. Brought it back, and a couple of hours later, I'm done. If not for this, I am 100% sure I would never ever have heard of this author or read this book, and now I want to read more!

The story is set in a quiet English village, its unlikely protagonist a retired City banker who's had a heart attack and been consigned to the country to recuperate. Investigating a mystery of the electric
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read anything by this author before, and what I have is a reprint as it was originally published in 1967. I love happy accidents, especially when it comes to books!
The story unfolds along two lines of mystery: one over 100 years old & the other recent, both are murders, and both have sketchy information for our protagonist to study. The author very nicely takes us along as one piece of research leads to another, and another until we nearly have the whole picture of all the adverbs
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really old-style, very British, mystery. I have no idea how this book landed on my shelves. Perhaps a used bookstore trip? I have read a couple other titles by this author, so that probably explains it. If you like Agatha Christie you'll probably like Catherine Aird. All of her other titles are part of the Inspector Stone series. This title was a stand alone. The mystery is set in an old Tudor Manor House where a successful London businessman has been forced into retirement by illness. While h ...more
Denise Spicer
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery fans
This mystery novel, written in 1967, is great! Forced by ill health to retire early, Thomas Harding and his wife move to an historic Tudor-era home in the English countryside. They make an exciting discovery of a secret room – a priest’s hole – and even more exciting, they find a skeleton in it. For 150 years it has lain there and the discovery spurs Thomas on to solve this puzzle. A local villager has been recently strangled and the author cleverly weaves together these two subplots. Although t ...more
Barbara Mader
I did like this--I now want to read up on priest holes--secret rooms for priests to hide in during the reign of Elizabeth I. And about Nicholas Owen, a craftsman famous for his cleverness in building these. But the mystery and the characters I found weak, and oh dear, the women, especially the protagonist's wife--flat and dull in the extreme. Also, in the writing, the aversion to the word "said," which resulted in characters constantly retorting stiffly, asking swiftly, admitting reluctantly, mu ...more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Five stars all around for this book. I had the pleasure of finding my copy in some mouldering boxes at an antiques flea market. This story was a page turner and I was greatly looking forward to the solution of the mystery.
A lovely book with quietly sympathetic characters. Not everything was explained at the end, but with a 150-year old mystery that's plausible.
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a mystery writer who began writing decades ago; my mother in law suggested the author, this was the one book I loved from this author.
A stand-alone with a mystery from the past by the author of the Inspector Sloane mysteries. Recommended.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-england
A retired businessman regains an interest in life when he finds a secret room in his newly-purchased house.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Three and a half stars.

There's a tradition among British mystery writers of the "convalescent mystery"...Morse did it, Frost did it, Josephine Tey's Grant did it. The policeman, detective or amateur sleuth finds himself hospitalised or laid up with illness or injury that takes longer to recover from than he is prepared to accept. Some person or event brings a crime from the far past to his attention, and he spends his convalescence swotting up ancient events and eventually figuring it all out.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to all who enjoy a clever mystery.
This short but ever so cleverly written British mystery will be a joy to read. Catherine Aird's A Most Contagious Game first published in 1967 has now been republished by Rue Morgue Press and is considered by the publishers to be a "Rue Morgue Classic British Mystery". And I certainly agree! This mystery has two murders 150 years apart that disrupt "the tranquility of a quiet English village". These two murders are connected in a very interesting way. What a dynamic way at to spend a few hours w ...more
Jamie Jonas
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great, understated little mystery. Ms. Aird did an outstanding job of spinning a mystery from these elements: A literal skeleton in a cubbyhole, a likable and curious-minded couple, a quiet, unassuming English country town and two murders--one very recent, the other very old. With this one under my belt, I will be reading more Aird in future.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember reading this particular book by Catherine Aird but I do know I have read quite a few of hers years ago. Loved the story and the characters. Was a very fast read since it does not have a large amount of pages. I think I'm going to start reading her books again because I can't remember which ones I did. Nice mystery with two murders, one 200 years ago and one recent.
Judith Teggelaar
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nicely written British mystery involving 2 murders -- one a cold case and one, present day. It reminds me of an Agatha Christie story but where her sleuths were unmarried, this features a nice married couple. I'm glad I read it.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful little British armchair mystery that was a quick read and held my interest. I would definitely read more from this author.
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Catherine Aird (born 1930) is the pseudonym of author Kinn Hamilton McIntosh. She was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and is the author of more than twenty crime fiction novels and story collections. Her writings are similar to those of Vivien Armstrong, M C Beaton and Pauline Bell.

Aird is creator of the Sloan and Crosby novels, set in the CID department of the fictional Berebury, West Calleshire