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Murder by Matchlight

(Robert MacDonald #25)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  47 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 st
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published November 10th 2018 by British Library Publishing (first published 1945)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  143 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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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
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
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.

The author’s language was very dry, with no emotional subtext, not in the story and not in the c
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 just
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am great fan of ‘golden age’ and early 20th century crime fiction but E.C.R. Lorac is a new writer to me as is her creation Inspector Macdonald. This is fairly surprising as 'Murder by Matchlight' is the 25th in a series of 45, so she must have been doing something right!

Unfortunately, at the start this novel did not work for me; the writing and dialogue felt stilted and improbable and falsely jovial and overall this had the feel of a not particularly well scripted British film from this era.

Christine Cody
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a shame these books are so rare and hard to find...our library, which has many of the great series of the Golden Age and beyond, complete, has only this one Robert MacDonald, and this is #25 in the series. What wonderful characters Lorac creates and the tale she spins so intricate. Just as McDonald pulls in the various suspects, the author pulls in the reader, always twisting, turning, letting us peek for a second at understanding then, oops, we're lost again, left to ponder the secrets and ...more
Coralee Hicks
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent introduction to Murder by Matchlight sets the tone of the e-book reissue of this classic mystery. Written by E.R.C Lorca, one of those included in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, Murder by Matchlight tells us of London during World War II. This is not a period piece. Lorca, was alive during this period. She was a prolific writer, this being the 26th novel featuring her detective, Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald of Scotland Yard.

It is November, London is in blackout. The Luftw
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
"Murder by Matchlight" is a mystery originally published in 1945 and set in London, England during World War II. The story included details about what life was like during blackout conditions and with bombs occasionally being dropped. The murderer uses these conditions to nearly get away with the perfect murder, but the detective and his team methodically dug up clues and sorted through suspects. They asked good questions and had a good feel for who was lying and who was telling the truth. Part ...more
Kelly-Jo Sweeney
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great golden age mystery, again from another writer that I haven't come across before. I used to think that I was quite well read when it came to those classic British mysteries from early to mid last century, this series from poisoned pen press just keeps on showing me how wrong I was about that.
This story is set during London in the second world war. This adds a special twist to the mystery itself, with much of it taking place in darkness, in the middle of the blackout. In fact, in ma
Karen Cleary
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The British Library has chosen book 25 of a series as the third book to re-publish. This one is interesting for its atmosphere and descriptions of life in London during the closing months of WW2. Set in November 1944, it was first published in 1945, and the murder is motivated by the war. The motive may have been more compelling for the book's contemporary audience, it was a complete surprise to me.
The murder committed in a public park, after dark has two unexpected witnesses, neither of whom ha
Ian Williams
The British Library are republishing a number of old crime books that were once popular and now have faded into obscurity. This is from 1945 and is set in wartime London. Like a lot of crime novels of its time, it is plot based, with all the threads being tied up in the last chapter. I found the book, and the plot, a little unbelievable, as it relied heavily on coincidence, but it was well paced and it held my attention throughout. The two positive aspects of the book are its descriptive narrati ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a reprint of a story first published in 1945. I very much like older period murder mysteries and I enjoyed this one. The crime itself takes place in blackout London with people actually comfortable with the monotony of the nightly bombing to go walking the streets as if it were normal times and the street were lighted. The crime therefore is only heard and discovered after the fact by the sounds associated with hitting and falling. Chief Inspector Macdonald is assigned to the case that i ...more
Brian Williams
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and Netgalley for a review copy of this eBook. The comments below are my own.
The story begins on a dark November evening in a park in war blackened-out London. Within a few feet of a couple of strangers a man is brutally killed with a coal-hammer. One of these witnesses has a brief sighting of the killer when the victim lights a match to his cigarette seconds before he is struck down Then the murderer is gone into the black night.
Scotland Yard Chief Inspector MacDona
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was first published in 1945, reprinted in 2015, and reprinted again in 2019. It is one of 48 books written in the Robert Macdonald series by Edith Caroline Rivett using the pseudonym ECR Lorac. She also wrote an additional 23 books under a second pseudonym, Carol Carnac

This book opens in November during WWII. The mystery here is who killed a man on a bridge in Regent’s Park in the dead of night in blacked out London. Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald is assigned the case. He has two wit
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1945 London is gripped by the blackout and the parks is not a place that most people would want to be. However, three people find their way to the park in the pitch dark for various reasons of their own. They also witness a murder but not the murderer.

It is a very atmospheric setting and unraveling it seems inexplicable because the reasons for each of the gentlemen being there at that very dark moment seem questionable. Each one has reasons which may seem plausible but on going back through thei
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, netgalley
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.

This novel is set during WWII, which is both integral to the plot and provides a very specific, interesting and well-defined historical setting The murder is carried out in a park which is accessible because the railings have been removed for use in the war effort, and the murderer's face is visible only by the light of a match because of the blackout. There are references throughout to bomb shelters and rationing and the blackout
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Goodreads Librari...: combine editions 3 19 Nov 10, 2018 03:07AM  
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
  • The Organ Speaks
  • Crime Counter Crime
  • A Pall for a Painter