Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Murder by Matchlight” as Want to Read:
Murder by Matchlight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Murder by Matchlight

(Robert MacDonald #26)

by
3.82  ·  Rating details ·  424 ratings  ·  98 reviews
London, 1945. The capital is shrouded in the darkness of the blackout, and mystery abounds in the parks after dusk.

During a stroll through Regent’s Park, Bruce Mallaig witnesses two men acting suspiciously around a footbridge. In a matter of moments, one of them has been murdered; Mallaig’s view of the assailant is but a brief glimpse of a ghastly face in the glow of a s
...more
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published November 10th 2018 by British Library Publishing (first published 1945)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Murder by Matchlight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Murder by Matchlight

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  424 ratings  ·  98 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Murder by Matchlight
Susan Johnson
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Net Galley. Thank you.

This is a Golden Age mystery book originally written in 1945. It perfectly captures the setting of war time in England. The descriptions of the bombing and the shelters were realistic probably because it was written in that time. I loved Chief Inspector Macdonald and would like to read more with him. I'll have to check and see if there are more books featuring him.

First of all, I really needed this book. After reading two books that featured gru
...more
Leah
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, crime
Maybe it’s because they are Londoners...

It’s a cold winter in London during World War 2, with the blackout in full force and the population living with the constant spectre of bombing raids. One night, young Bruce Mallaig is sitting on a bench in Regent’s Park thinking romantic thoughts of the girl he loves, when he sees – or mostly hears due to the pitch darkness – two men near the little footbridge, one on the bridge, the other standing below it. While he ponders what they might be up to, the
...more
Olga Godim
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
2.5 stars
I received the Kindle version of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first time I read this author, and no surprise. The novel was first published in 1945. It belongs to the Golden Age of British detective fiction, but I wasn’t impressed. The writing was mediocre, the story faintly boring, the editing dismal, and the characters flat. Let me elaborate.

Writing
The author’s language was very dry, with no emotional subtext, not in the story and not in the c
...more
Barb in Maryland
Oh, this one had me stumped right up to the end. But the author played fair, all of the clues were there. I was just so wrapped up in the story that I failed to add them up properly.
Well done, Inspector MacDonald. Well done, Ms Lorac.

Besides a clever murder mystery, the author gives us a vivid picture of London during the war. The scene in the air raid shelter was very effective--I could almost hear the bombers and the anti-aircraft guns.
Carol
Last read of 2018! “Real” review to come in the new year.
Alexia Gordon
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Had a surprisingly modern feel. Set in London during WWII, the police can't let blackouts and air raids stop them from exposing a murderer. The blackout is as much a character as the people, women weren't stereotyped, and the police were competent investigators. Reminded me a little of Foyle's War but actually written in 1945. Plus a bonus short story. I'll seek out more by this author.
Bridget
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first mystery written by E.C.R. Lorac and I was very impressed!

Although this is an old fashioned mystery, the book was easy to read and in some respects didn’t seem as dated as I would have expected. It was a police procedural set in London during WW2 and the author's descriptions of that time added a great sense of atmosphere to this novel. The mystery itself was very well plotted and the novel was eloquently written. The characters were brilliantly drawn and all were pretty likeabl
...more
Susan in NC
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, excellent, atmospheric police procedural, which made excellent use of WWII London - blackout conditions, air raids, identity cards, etc. This is the second Golden Age mystery I’ve read by Lorac, and I hope more of her books become available as re-issues soon.

In this case, the action is off to a quick start - as the book opens, a young man is wandering Regent’s Park during the blackout on a raw, dark November night; he was to meet his fiancée for dinner, but her leave was canceled. Rat
...more
Ivonne Rovira
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second novel by E.C.R. Lorac, and it was even better than Fire in the Thatch!

Set in London during the blackout nights of World War II, the novel follows Inspector Robert MacDonald of Scotland Yard’s CID as he investigates the eponymous murder by matchlight of one John Ward. Except the MacDonald soon discovers that the victim had stolen someone else’s identity and wasn’t John Ward at all! So who was he really? And who had a reason to want him dead?

Edith Caroline Rivett (pen name: E.C.R
...more
Margaret
I thoroughly enjoyed Murder by Matchlight. I’ve read two other books by E C R Lorac, Bats in the Belfry and Fire in the Thatch, both of which I enjoyed, but I think this is my favourite of the three.

The setting is London in 1945, in the darkness of the blackout as the bombs are still falling. A murder takes place in almost complete darkness in Regent’s Park, witnessed by Bruce Mallaig who heard it happen and briefly saw both the victim and his assailant by the light of a struck match. It is not
...more
Tracey
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, homefront
It's so lovely to find a new-to-me golden age mystery, and one that almost lives up to favorites of its era. Murder by Matchlight – which I received through Netgalley, thanks very much – is a Dover reissue of a book originally published in 1945, the story of a murder in a park in London as the war continues to rage across the Channel.

And it was wonderfully enjoyable. The mystery is a lovely puzzle, with the wartime setting, some fun and exotic elements, and sheer happenstance combining into jus
...more
Bandit
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic British mysteries always put me in mind of the great Agatha Christie. This wasn't quite that strong, but entertaining enough in its own right. A charming, but reprobate scoundrel gets himself killed during a blackout in the 1944 London and it's up to Chief Inspector MacDonald to solve the crime. Suspicion's net falls on a pretty interesting cast of characters, from circus performers to professors. It's sort of a locked building mystery if you will and at that it is quite Christielike. Ku ...more
Carol Evans
Murder by Matchlight features Scotland Yard’s imperturbable Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, who is tasked with finding the killer of the man on the bridge. His only evidence: a set of bicycle tracks that come to an abrupt end. His suspects: a colorful cast that includes the shy, soft-spoken witness, a respected London physician, a screenwriter, an unemployed laborer, and a vaudevillian specializing in illusions.
This is the first of Lorac’s MacDonald mysteries I’ve read. MacDonald is a good cha
...more
Melissa Dee
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder by Matchlight is a cleverly plotted, old-fashioned police procedural set in London during the Blitz. Bravo to Martin Edwards and the Poisoned Pen Press for resuscitating these old books, which remain very satisfying 75 years after their initial publication.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Laurie
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My full review can be found at https://bedfordbookshelf.com/2019/08/... ...more
Bonnye Reed
GNabKo . Edith Caroline Rivett (1894–1958) wrote British crime procedurals under the alias of E. C. R. Lorac from 1931 through 1959. She also had other alias to her credit. The early books were published by the Collins Crime Club in London, and this particular book has been republished by a couple of publishers. I am thrilled to have been exposed to this author and hope to see many more of her novels back in print.

Murder by Matchlight is a very special book. Written and published during the war
...more
Paul
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An old fashioned British mystery that transports you back to wartime London. If you like the writing style from the 40s, you'll like this. With a good mystery puzzle and very well-written characters, A good, but not great ending and a very worthwhile read for this kind of novel.

Thanks very much for the free review copy!
Judy Lesley
This novel is a prime example of the good mysteries I find when I seek out Dover Mystery Classics. For me, the intriguing aspect of this novel is that the mystery takes place in November of 1944 and the book was originally published in 1945. I got the definite feeling that the author had been exposed to the conditions which played such an important part in the setting of this novel. In these modern times it is difficult to imagine a city the size of London being so dark at night that people coul ...more
KayKay
"Murder by Matchlight" is a fine mystery work by E.C.R. Lorac. There are only, to date, three titles by the author being republished albeit she was a prolific mystery writer of her time. E.C.R. Lorac was an extremely capable mystery writer. The three books, including "Murder by Matchlight," all offer different surprises and distinct elements for readers of the genre. "Murder by Matchlight," however, is a slight disappointment somewhat.

I loved ALL the characters, the premise, the intriguing murd
...more
Megan
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder by Matchlight is the most recent British Library Crime Classics to be published by Poisoned Pen Press. It’s a delightful read!
This Golden Age detective story begins in Regent’s Park during a war-time blackout. Two men witness a murder, but can they be trusted? Are they—just—witnesses? C.I. MacDonald leads the investigation, which includes tracking down the victim’s identity. The suspects are a quirky cast of characters and the setting, dark and foggy 1940s London, is ideal. I highly recom
...more
Anjana
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read one other book by the author Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. Lorac and while I enjoyed that tale, this book was a lot more fun to read and to dissect. This story spans a very short time with a lot of overworked policemen doing a lot of leg work. This aspect of hunting for the truth is discussed in excruciating detail and while I enjoyed every minute of it, it is something to keep in mind if one is not inclined to enjoy the finer details. Classic crime books have the discussion of human ...more
Susan
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-england
The two witnesses to the murder tell interlocking stories--but neither can identify the killer. That's what happens when murder is done in the blackout, and only a lighted match breaks the darkness. But what really bothers Inspector MacDonald is the victim--the charming Irishman known to the other lodgers as John Ward. The one thing the inspector knows for sure is that John Ward isn't his name. As MacDonald and his team gradually put together facts about the dead man, they find that only too man ...more
Mary
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man sits alone on a bench in London’s Regent Park during a blackout in 1945. Soon two other men, unaware of the fact that they are being watched, enter the scene. A match is struck and, in the quick flare of its flame, a fourth man’s face appears. Seconds later a scuffle occurs, one of the men lies dead—and another case has begun for E.C.R. Lorac’s Inspector Macdonald, complete with an eccentric cast of characters and plenty of suspects and red herrings.

The real fun for me in reading this book
...more
Eric
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly enjoyable, as good as "Bats in the Belfry", but in different ways.

The portrayal of London and Londoners in the Blitz is very effective and the opening is every bit as dramatic as one might wish.

Although in other books Robert MacDonald is rather colourless, here there were some glimpses of his personality, and a little of his background.

The theatrical and other lodgers were all interestingly-depicted and, although the solution did rather depend on some coincidences and precise timings, it
...more
M.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young man whose girlfriend could not get away from her military service sits alone in a darkened park during the Blitz, not far from a small bridge. Then a match flickers and two faces appear on the bridge. The match dies out and a sickening sound mars the dark. So begins Murder by Matchlight.

This is the second book I've read by E.C.R. Lorac, and I have come to understand that one of her strengths are her characters. They are not lifeless stock players, but become rather real people by the tim
...more
John
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is just the sort of detective story that I like. The murder happens in the first few pages and all of the evidence about how and why and by whom is discovered by the detective. Chief Inspector Macdonald is in the same vein as Crofts' Inspector French or Bellairs' Inspector Littlejohn being thorough, painstaking and clever but humane as well. A very likeable character.

A man is hit on the head and killed in Regents Park during the wartime blackout. There were several witnesses unseen in the
...more
Susan
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1945, the story is set in London during the blitz. Because of the blackout, when a man on a bridge lights a match his face seems unnaturally bright. A few seconds later he has been murdered, but after the match is extinguished the witness Bruce Mallaig can only hear footsteps and thuds in the dark. Curiously all these footsteps can be accounted for; it appears that the murderer was able to approach the bridge in absolute silence. This is only one of the impossibilities fa ...more
Erin Britton
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During the winter of 1944, London was a distinctly dangerous place to be. The continued threat of night-time German bombing raids meant that a strict blackout was imposed across the city, leaving citizens to wander the freezing streets in the kind of pitch-black darkness and fog that serve well to mask nefarious deeds. Most people spent their nights at home, only venturing out if an air raid siren indicated the need to head to a local bomb shelter. However, despite this widespread recognition of ...more
Kate
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
For my full review click on the link below:
https://crossexaminingcrime.wordpress...
...more
Julie
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A murder after dark in a park. A complex investigation of some colourful characters. A bombing in London as part of the blitz. Witnesses with an interest in the case. There is so much to admire in this book, a classic murder mystery of the Golden Age of Detection. A murder seemingly carried out in seemingly impossible circumstances as this one is represents some clever planning, in execution as well as working out the plot. This is not only a murder mystery; its original publication date in 1945 ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Murder by Matchlight by E C R Lorac - 3 stars 1 9 Oct 21, 2019 12:33AM  
Goodreads Librari...: combine editions 3 20 Nov 10, 2018 03:07AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Body in the Dumb River: A Yorkshire Mystery
  • Surfeit of Suspects
  • Smallbone Deceased (Inspector Hazlerigg, #4)
  • The Division Bell Mystery
  • Death Has Deep Roots (Inspector Hazlerigg, #5)
  • The Colour of Murder
  • Weekend at Thrackley
  • The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories
  • Death in Captivity
  • The Belting Inheritance
  • Mystery in the Channel
  • Excellent Intentions
  • Seven Dead
  • Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries
  • Deep Waters: Murder on the Waves
  • Somebody at the Door
  • The Hog's Back Mystery (Inspector French #10)
  • One by One They Disappeared
See similar books…
29 followers
Edith Caroline Rivett (who wrote under the pseudonyms E.C.R. Lorac and Carol Carnac, Carol Rivett, Mary le Bourne.) was a British crime writer. She was born in Hendon, Middlesex (now London). She attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. She was a member of the Detection Club. She was a very prolific writer, having written forty-eight mysteries ...more

Other books in the series

Robert MacDonald (1 - 10 of 46 books)
  • The Murder on the Burrows (Robert MacDonald, #1)
  • The Affair on Thor's Head (Robert MacDonald, #2)
  • The Greenwell Mystery (Robert MacDonald, #3)
  • Death On The Oxford Road (Robert MacDonald, #4)
  • The Case of Colonel Marchand (Robert MacDonald #5)
  • Murder in St. John's Wood (Robert MacDonald #6)
  • Murder in Chelsea (Robert MacDonald #7)
  • The Organ Speaks (Robert MacDonald #8)
  • Crime Counter Crime (Robert MacDonald #9)
  • A Pall for a Painter (Robert MacDonald #10)

Related Articles

While books about anti-racism are trending on Goodreads and dominating the bestseller lists right now, some of our favorite Black authors are a...
197 likes · 42 comments