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Portrait of a Murderer

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  401 ratings  ·  129 reviews
"Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931." Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray's six surviving children
Paperback, British Library Crime Classics, 240 pages
Published September 10th 2017 by The British Library (first published 1933)
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3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  401 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adrian Gray, a country gentleman, will be murdered by one of his six children on Christmas Eve, 1931. The seventy year old patriarch is hosting the Gray family's yearly holiday gathering. Adrian is a despicable tight wad who parents by using humiliation. His children either tolerate or despise him. One will take his life.

Here are the players. Richard, married to a society woman, has been knighted but wants to obtain a peerage, an honorary title commanding even more respect. Unmarried Amy is Adri
It’s Christmas 1931.

*Pause - That’s it for Christmas, so if the lovely, traditional cover suggests that you might find here some warm, Christmas-infused tale or lesson in the Christmas spirit, you’ve been had. On the other hand, if like me you run with gusto in the opposite direction from heart-warming tales of the resilience of the human spirit and happy families where all value each other’s individuality, stick around, this novel is just right for you.

So . . .where were we? Ah. It is Christma
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931. The crime was instantaneous and unpremeditated, and the murderer was left staring at the weapon on the table to the dead man in the shadows of the tapestry curtains, not apprehensive, not yet afraid, but incredulous and dumb.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: "Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Chri
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
Certainly a very unusual mystery. We know the murderer, more of a Columbo style mystery. Incredibly anti-Semitic showing just how prevalent hatred of Jews was in the 1930ies. Hard to read in places for this aspect alone. If you are looking for a whodunnit this is not the one to go for. Ok, amusing in places, but leaving a tad of an unpleasant after taste.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Krimi von 1931 neu aufgelegt - diesen alten Stil muss man mögen, aber bis auf ein paar kleine Längen hat es mir echt gut gefallen!

Das ist jetzt bereits der dritte Weihnachtskrimi in Folge, den der Klett-Cotta Verlag neu auflegt. 1931 ist er erstmals erschienen und gerade das fand ich sehr faszinierend, einen direkten Einblick zu bekommen, wie die Gesellschaft und die Beziehungen zwischen den Menschen damals "funktioniert" haben - und zwar nicht rückblickend, sondern aus erster Hand.

Gegliedert is
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, crime
In the bleak midwinter...

Every Christmas, the Gray family gather at the home of their elderly father, Adrian Gray – a rather unpleasant, miserly sort of man who has produced an equally unpleasant bunch of children on the whole. This Christmas, in 1931, only a couple of the children are there out of any feelings of affection – most are trying to screw money out of the old man.

There's Richard, a politician who desperately wants a title, but feels he needs to put on a show of wealth to impress the
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers looking for something different
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
In each episode of the TV series Columbo, the script immediately identified the perpetrator of the crime, and the viewer’s pleasure came from watching the disheveled, deceptively dim homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo inexorably hone in on the malefactor’s trail. But that trick (known as the “inverted detective format” long predates Columbo, first appearing in 1912’s The Singing Bone.

Portrait of a Murderer — a 1931 novel by Anne Meredith, one of Lucy Malleson’s several pen names — also follow
This is a novel primarily interested in portraying characters. And rarely have I encountered a less likable batch of people (or people I wish could escape from those people). The murderer's identity is revealed halfway through, and the rest is a matter of bringing home evidence to the culprit.

Content note: very anti-Semitic.
Although the beginning of the book did not sound very promising, I ended up enjoying this mystery very much. It is not a typical whodunnit. Instead you have the opportunity to delve into the murderer's mind. It was surprisingly good! Also, it was a Christmas crime story - what could be better?!
Cleo Bannister
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
It has taken me a while to write this review because I needed time for the book to settle before I could decide how I felt about it. One of its strengths, and weaknesses, was because it isn’t a conventional crime story. We learn who the murderer is fairly early on with the rest of the novel spent watching from the wings to see if they will get caught. Now considering the book was written in 1933 this was a brave move, although this author was quite established under another pen name Anthony Gilb ...more
Judy Lesley
Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for a digital galley of this novel.

This novel written in 1933 is not so much a mystery as a psychological look at a murderer and the reasons for the crime. The family gathered at King's Poplars in 1931 to celebrate Christmas. Adrian Gray had not expected anything but trouble with his adult children but he got more than he had expected when his murder took pride of place in the emotional stew surrounding the lives of his family.

This is just not a favo
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Firmly set during the Christmas period, A Portrait of a Murderer is more Christmassy than my last so-called Christmas mystery, but really it isn’t very Christmassy at all. Christmas is merely the device which brings people together, almost all of whom are absolutely horrid. There is absolutely no Christmas spirit in evidence. However, the story is deftly plotted and in a twist to the traditional whodunnit which I particularly enjoyed, we know fairly early on who the murderer is. I’ve always been ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I gather that this is the fiftieth forgotten classic to be issued in the British Library series. I have read nearly all of them and in many ways find this the most difficult to review.

The plot is, on the surface, simple.

Adrian Gray is murdered in the library of his house, King’s Poplars, deep in the heart of Grebeshire, at Christmas. The murderer is one of his six children. The culprit is revealed one fifth of the way into the book. The remainder provides a psychological study of that person and
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was far from the light, cosy Christmas mystery I thought it was going to be. It's dark and complex, the language rich--almost Dickensian, dare I say, but minus the humour in this context. I appreciate that it looks at how psychological and social factors shape a family, drawing attention to how siblings come to occupy different class positions and are strangers to one another.
Puzzle Doctor
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting inverted mystery but not my cup of tea. Full review at
Apr 15, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Me ha parecido una novela detectivesca muy original. Nada más comenzarla ya sabemos quién es la víctima y no tardamos muchas páginas en conocer quién ha cometido el crimen, no porque lo adivinemos sino porque nos lo revela la propia autora.

Lo importante en este libro no es el misterio en sí, lo importante es explorar la mente del criminal, la escritora nos introduce en la cabeza del asesino para que conozcamos en primera persona cuales son los motivos que lo han llevado a hacerlo, así como las
Ruth Berent
Me recordó a Agatha Christie en la forma de pensar de los personajes. Todos, en algún aspecto de la vida, destestables éticamente , clasistas y bastante desagradables pero hasta ahí las comparaciones con Christie.

Anne Meredith presenta un retrato de sus personajes sin piedad, ni sentimentalismo. El crimen es lo de menos y el descubrimiento del asesino tampoco; los lectores conocemos lo que pasó desde el principio, a la autora solo le interesa el retrato de los personajes y eso lo hace de forma
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas 1931. The crime was instantaneous and unpremeditated, and the murderer was left staring from the weapon on the table to the dead man in the shadow of the tapestry curtains, not apprehensive, not yet afraid, but incredulous and kind of story,period:)
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review can also be found on my blog

Indeed, I have never been so much ashamed of anything, without being in the least sorry.

It’s hard to read the first chapters of this book without thinking of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (which was published a few years later). We have a Christmas party in a family with little love lost between the different members. Most of the children have money-troubles and unhappy marriages. And then the patriarch who is an all-around horrible person gets murdered.

Ich gebe es frei heraus zu. Ich habe diesen Roman etwa nach 60 Prozent abgebrochen und noch schnell über den Schluss gelesen. Mich konnte der Roman einfach nicht überzeugen. Das lag nicht einmal groß daran, das keine der Figuren - egal welche man sich dabei anschaut - sonderlich sympathisch ist. Das ist für mich tatsächlich nicht unbedingt ein Grund eine Geschichte nicht zu mögen. Aber für mich liest sich das Ganze als ein Roman, dessen Autorin sich nicht entscheiden konnte, aus welcher Perspekt ...more
I've made it an annual tradition to read one of the British Library Crime Classics (BLCC) during the holiday period and to try to make it a season appropriate selection as well. The BLCC series of reprints concentrates on the “Golden Age” of British Crime writing from the inter-World War years, and specializes in authors that are currently not that well known and whose works have otherwise gone out of print.

The marketing for Anne Meredith's "Portrait of a Murderer" certainly teases a seasonal s
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This really wasn't much of a mystery. It's more of a charcter study. The father dies. One of his children committed the murder. We know which one it was and how it was done. He's just trying to hide it from his siblings. I really disliked the entire family. It simply did not resonate well with me; however, persons who like to see character drive the story may enjoy it. It's labeled as Christmas crime. Just because the murder happened at Christmas when the family gathered does not make it a "Chri ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This is a very well written suspenseful book. While it is an inverted mystery, it’s not solely from the murderer’s perspective. Instead, we get glimpses the crime from those most involved. It starts out with a lengthy introduction to the most prominent characters. Then with startling abruptness, the crime is committed. What follows is a tortuous sorting out of personalities and clues. There aren’t really any surprises. Right from the first, you know what will eventually bring him down, but who ...more
Becky B
The Gray family is gathering for Christmas, but while family gatherings at other places may be full of cheer and happiness, there is very little cheery when the Grays get together. One daughter is trying to endear herself by managing the house for her miserly father, one son is headed places in government regardless of what it costs, one daughter’s husband has conned numerous people – including the elder Gray into making risky investments, one daughter is a shell of her former self after persona ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery fans
When the patriarch of a family is found to be dead on Christmas morning and not one of his six children nor their accompanying spouses can be bothered to even give the pretence of mourning him, you know it's going to be a ripping read. Adrian Gray is that patriarch and even more unfortunate than not being mourned by his brood, one of them has murdered him.

This story takes through not just on the who but along the winding road of why and the coverup and framing of another. Go all in on dastardly
Sonia De la rosa
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Es una novela entretenida, en la que la autora retrata a una familia de la aristocracia venida a menos. Una familia que no sienten ningún aprecio entre ellos. Esa Navidad deciden pasarlas juntos, por qué algunos de ellos esperan sacar del viejo patriarca alguna ayuda económica para solventar sus líos, otros con la esperanza de que esa Navidad va a ser diferente.... Pero no, la mezquindad de esa familia sigue ahí. Entre reproches, indirectas se van lanzando puyas.
Hasta que la mañana de Navidad a
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I received this one through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

I quite enjoyed this Christmas crime novel, it shone by the portrayal of complex and more than morally grey characters. In many crime novels, the exposition can be my favourite part, because I love having the portrayal of several characters and trying to figure out who is most likely to commit murder, whether I'm proven right or wrong in the end. As the identity of the murderer is revealed early on
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This was quite different from most murder tales. Right up front in the first paragraph we know who is murdered. We are shown the murder and who did it. The mystery in this one is will they get away with it! I almost gave up on the book as the characters were so unlovely! Lots of characters and descriptions and getting to know them and the family dynamics and this family is not a pleasant family. But I hung in there, mostly because Tracy @ Bitter Tea and Mystery reviewed it right about that time ...more
Encarni Prados
La historia es buena pero, para mi opinión, le sobran páginas. La narracion, típica de la época, es muy buena pero, en varias ocasiones, se me ha hecho pesada. Lo que si me ha gustado ha sido el retrato de la época y lo bien que están retratados los personajes, por ello ha merecido la pena leer la historia.
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Librarian's note: there is more than one author with this name.

Anne Meredith was a pseudonym of Lucy Beatrice Malleson (1899-1973) who is best known as the author of the Arthur Crook series of detective novels published under the name of Anthony Gilbert. She was a highly esteemed writer of crime fiction and a member of the elite Detection Club, but the 'Anne Meredith' books were out of print for m