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Excellent Intentions

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  67 reviews
'From the point of view of the nation, it's a good thing that he died.'

Great Barwick's least popular man is murdered on a train. Twelve jurors sit in court. Four suspects are identified - but which of them is on trial? This novel has all the makings of a classic murder mystery, but with a twist: as Attorney-General Anstruther Blayton leads the court through prosecution and
Paperback, 205 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published 1938)
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  233 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Londoner Henry Cargate was the new owner of Scotney End Hall. He was a despicable man. The villagers were delighted when he was murdered. The story commences with the accused standing in the dock. Judge Trefusis Smith has issued the following statement. "...Gentlemen of the jury, it is not permitted to murder even the most wicked of men". Smith, retiring after this case, hopes to encourage the jurors to agree with his mindset. Who is the accused? We are not privy to this information. As the tria ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Henry Cargate is the new owner of Scotney End Hall and is disliked by everyone in the village and by some in London.
Therefore nobody is shocked to learn he has been murdered. In fact, a few breathe a sigh of relief.
There are 4 distinct suspects. 4 Alibis. 4 motives. Who is guilty? Who is capable of murder?

Excellent intentions is an unusual murder/mystery. The story begins in a courtroom by the prosecution’s opening statement. We know who the victim is. We know how he was murdered. What we do no
Mayke (acozyliving)☕️
This book was kindly provided to me by Edelweiss.

I wasn't a big fan of this book. Murder cases are something that I very much enjoy reading about, but this was so immensely tough to get through. Even with only 198 pages. All the chapters were so long-winded, that I found myself skipping words and sentences a lot. The books talks about the case of the murder of an unpopular man, and we follow the development of the case and trial. There are 7 parts:
1. Prosecution
2. Investigation
3. Analysis
4. Def
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Henry Cargate, a narcissistic, unscrupulous misanthrope, newly moved to Scotney End Hall, has managed to alienate virtually every single villager in Scotney End, most of his staff and even the kindly vicar, Reverend Yockleton. The novel begins after Cargate was murdered on a train with a courtroom drama. But while we get looks at the various witnesses at this trial, the defendant’s identity remains a secret until nearly the end. In effect, author Richard Hull turns the novel on its head with the ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes "British Library Crime Classics".
This appears to be 'high concept', but is it really just a restructure? In the introduction (by Martin Edwards), Jorge Luis Borges says, " Richard Hull has written an extremely pleasant book...his irony civilized." Agreed, "irony civilized."
CAST - 3 stars: Anstruther Blayton, age 52, struts his stuff from the opening paragraphs. He's gonna lead the jury right down a particular path. But Mr. Justice Smith, Judge, is famous for swaying juries. Blayton and the Judg
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s always fun to see what mysteries are selected for the British Library Crime Classics series. A miserable, boor of a man dies in a railway car. Whether he was poisoned or he had a heart attack is the question—and the mystery plods along. I wanted to like the mystery—but the characters were so flat and the plot so dry that I found it a chore to finish. I appreciate that it had a few unusual features for a mystery of its time, so that’s the primary reason for my rating.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I’ve never read a mystery formatted like this one. It took me a while to figure out just what was going on. It starts in the courtroom with the opening arguments of the prosecution and the thoughts of the judge, then moves on to the witness’s testimony. That’s where it got a bit confusing. It jumps back and tells, in minute detail, what happened when the ‘least popular man’ drops dead on a train. We learn all about everyone’s thoughts, words, and actions. Then it goes back to the courtroom for ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
"Excellent Intentions" is a mystery set in England and originally published in 1938. The novel started at the opening of a trial and then had flashback descriptions of events as seen by various witnesses and the detective. The reader isn't told who is on trial until the end, but everyone is sure that the accused is guilty.

This is a clue-based puzzle mystery. There were only four main suspects, and I quickly narrowed it down to two based on the same reasoning that the characters followed later in
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, crime
Snuffed out...

Henry Cargate has offended just about everyone who has had anything to do with him, so when he takes a huge pinch of snuff unaware it’s been laced with potassium cyanide and dies, really anyone could be a suspect. But a person has been charged with the crime and is now about to be tried. As the lawyer for the prosecution lays out the investigation and evidence for the jury, the reader is invited to tag along. But unlike the jury, the reader is not told the identity of the accused u
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A wonderfully 'fair' crime/trial book. The reader, if they follow the text closely will be able to deduce the identity of the murderer yet that does not change the fact that the book takes an unexpected turn towards the end.
Becky B
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enter the courtroom for the trial of the murder of the odious Mr. Carthgate. He made enemies practically wherever he went and therefore the potential list of murderers is at first daunting. As the case is laid out by the prosecution and defense, readers are occasionally taken back to the scene of the crime, a train station, and the victim’s house the day before as witnesses share their memories. But it is not until the very end of the book that readers get to find out who exactly was chosen to b ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent reading! This is the best of the four Hull novels I have read recently.

It displays an unbeatable combination of good writing, fair clueing, light satire and an ending with a slight twist- the twist is clued obliquely in the British title and more obviously in the US one.

Everyone in this book, including the murderer and victim, thinks that they act with the very best of intentions. The cast of suspects is limited and, given the evidence, any one of them has motive. The vital point here
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Richard Hull's style but, seriously, I totally had to read the ending twice because I couldn't tell what happened AT ALL. Now, I'm not sure if it's vague really or it was too late at night or something similar - all I can tell you is I was legit lost. Does this reflect poorly on the book itself? As I say, I'm not sure; this could have been my fault as maybe I wasn't reading as closely as the book warranted, but I do offer this criticism as a caution for future readers. Don't let y ...more
Louise d'Abadia
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for my copy of this book! This story is different from other Golden Age mysteries for a number of reasons. Firstly, it starts with a trial for murder, but you have no idea who’s the one being persecuted. Secondly, the court setting is different from other books from the same genre, and the focus given to the judge’s thoughts and manners is really unique. I found the story original without leaving the whodunnit atmosphere of book written at that same tim ...more
Yorky Caz
Such a good concept. You go through the book alternating between the court case, the events leading upto the murder and then the investigation. All the while you dont know who is actually in the box charged with the crime. Excellent idea I just found the writing a little bland and I struggled to get through bits without the urge to skim.
Les Wilson
I was very disappointed with this book after all the praise given it in the reviews. Might be worth a little more than 2 but not good enough for 3.
Lou Robinson
A good solid story of poisoning, with most of the action focused on the trial of one of the suspects...but you don't find out who until the last few pages. Felt a bit drawn out, but overall I liked it.
Jay Maxfield
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-crime
From what I have read about Richard Hull - he was an experimentalist in crime fiction writing - exploring many different sub genres and writing styles. In this novel - Hull has set the whole book around the court proceedings of an un-named suspect (who remains so almost until the end) who is suspected of killing Mr. Cargate a wealthy but misanthropic magnate whose life's ambitions where to upset and annoy as many people as possible - even by his Will he left everything to the Government so that ...more
Eva Müller
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, review-copies
This review can also be found on my blog
If you ask my quite unofficial opinion, plenty of people richly deserve to be murdered
nowadays and far too few of them actually get bumped off.

The book is advertised as a crime novel that’s not (quite) like the other crime novels and at first, it is very unlike others. The book starts with the trial and we learn a few things about the judge, the prosecutor and the lawyer. But nothing about the person who’s on trial. They’re only referred to as ‘the accuse
Diane Hernandez
Herbert Cargate is a very unpleasant man. He is also soon to be poisoned on a train in the English countryside in Excellent Intentions.

Starting a murder case at the end, in the courtroom trying to prove a mysterious person’s guilt, is an unusual plot structure. Published in 1938, fifteen years before Agatha Christie’s more famous courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution, Excellent Intentions also uses a courtroom setting to obscure the face of a murderer. While I enjoyed the change, it did ma
Brian Williams
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent whodunit murder mystery from the Golden Age of Murder, the period between the two world wars, and is set in the English countryside. The story is told within the structure of the courtroom trial of a person accused of killing a rather despicable man. Uniquely, the identity of the accused is not revealed until the end of the book so the reader faces a double mystery: who is the accused, and are they in fact the murderer? There are several potential suspects to consider during ...more
BJ Hal
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Interesting premise to not know which of the four suspects is actually on trial for murder until near the end of the book, although it's quite easy to deduce from the clues given. The characters I enjoyed the most were the judge and the foreman of the jury who was a man after my own heart-if someone tries to hard to convince me of something I almost always want to take the opposite direction. The book is also very readable in that you want to read to the end to know what happens and a ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different twist on the Golden Age detective novel

Having previously enjoyed Richard Hull's first novel, 'The Murder of My Aunt', I was keen try another of his Golden Age murder stories with a difference.

In 'Excellent Intentions' , the reader gathers information about the case via not only the investigation but also the trial - without knowing the identity of the defendant until almost the end! The book is laced with black humour and filled with unusual characters, including a thoroughly unlike
Matthew Barnes
Not the best crime classic, but still worth a read for the inventiveness of the plot.
Janet Emson
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, reviewed
Launcelot Henry Cuthbert Cargate, or Henry Cargate to his enemies, is found dead on the train to London. His death was not mourned by anyone, given he was the least popular man in the village of Larkingfield. Someone has been arrested and is being tried for his murder but the identity of the accused is not revealed. Who did Inspector Fenby arrest, and will prosecution counsel Anstruther Blayton argue his case well enough for a conviction?

There’s been a murder. And the accused is on trial. All we
tom bomp
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Alright but doesn't stand out from the crowd of decent mysteries. The slightly unconventional format of having it take place in the courtroom while the investigation and event is told mostly in flashbacks, partly in in-court witness and lawyer statements is a little interesting but ultimately it's not that different to the normal mystery format. Mostly it plays out in a conventional way, based on a very methodical police officer who interviews everyone, looks for gaps and contradictions and unus ...more
Dora  (Swift Coffee Book Blog)
Full review:

This book has the atmosphere that only the old classic crime stories can give. People might try/might have tried to mimic it later, but that's never quite the same. The world changes, thus writers and literature change, too. I love crime stories of all subgenre, of all times, but it's nice to sometimes just sink into the slow and simple vibe of old times.

What occurred to me immediately when I opened the ebook, was that this book has a very unu
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Excellent Intentions is one of the British Library Crime Classics series from Poisoned Pen Press. Originally released in 1938 (alternate title: Beyond Reasonable Doubt ), it was written by Richard Hull, this edition is 240 pages and available in ebook and paperback versions.

This series, from various often lesser known authors, is a really nice selection of golden age classic mysteries which deserve re-release to a new audience. I've reviewed
This is the second book by Richard Hull that I’ve read. However, I didn’t think Excellent Intentions was as enjoyable as the first one, The Murder of My Aunt.

Henry Cargate, of Scotney End Hall, died on a train for London, from a heart attack brought on when he inhaled snuff laced with potassium cyanide. He was an unpleasant man, the most disliked person in the village of Scotney End and several people were suspected of murdering him. One of those suspects (who is not named until near the end of
Jacqueline Vick
When my mother gave me a copy of this book, I looked forward to delving into it. After all, it was a British Library Crime Classic. What's not to love?

The author's writing style was amusing; however, this book, my first Richard Hull, goes back and forth between the trial and jurors and the investigation of the crime. It was too distracting, and I had difficulty following the thread. Also, court scenes, naturally, are not very active, so there were pages of paragraphs describing the thoughts of
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Richard Henry Sampson FCA (6 September 1896 – 1973), known by the pseudonym Richard Hull, was a British writer who became successful as a crime novelist with his first book in 1934.


Note: At least two other authors with the same name: Richard Hull-illustrator & Richard Hull-non-fiction

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