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Excellent Intentions

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  48 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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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  146 ratings  ·  48 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 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.
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
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: historical, mystery
"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
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.
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
3.5 atars
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
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies, crime
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
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
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
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
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 whonis 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.
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 a n
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
This mystery features a unique way to tell a story in which we know at the beginning that someone is on trial for murder, but we don't know who the accused is. The narrative goes back and forth between the trial and the investigation that led up to it. The story-telling was distinct in that regard and quite inventive. On the negative side, though, I found the language and sentence structure to be unnecessarily cumbersome, and I had to reread whole paragraphs as I wasn't quite sure what was being ...more
Alaina Sloo
I think this might be a case where the marketing writer was better than the book writer. It's a fine book: an interesting construction and I'm glad I read it for that reason. But I opened this book intrigued and ended it less so.

It started out well, but over time I didn't find it nearly as suspenseful as I'd expected. Mainly, I think the gradual hints it gave as to the identity of the person on the stand weren't sufficiently gradual to make it exciting to figure out -- or find out --who the acc
Liselotte Roggeband
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: detectives, owned
This was an incredibly interesting take on the general detective story. Detective stories are some of my favourite, and this new approach to it was exactly what it needed. I've read quite a few of them, and none have been like this one. This book is funny, ridiculous and it really needs to be read with a clear mind, as the story is told backwards.

I had my mind set on one suspect, which I was wrong about, but reading the reasoning behind it all, it really made sense who actually did it.

I really
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating between 3 & 3.5

An interesting change to the format I felt, the trial of the murderer being told told along side the investigation.
Not sure if I would really count it a fair play novel although I did spot the couple of inconsistencies in the witness interviews.
There was some humour in the story and the twist ending I do not think I have seen before.
Not an easy read I felt.and it took me a few chapters to get into the author’s style of writing. Probably bait an ideal book to read whilst
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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