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The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways #4)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  800 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Frank Cairnes, a popular detective writer who now embarks on a real-life crime of his own, determined to hunt down the runaway motorist who killed his small son Martin.
Paperback, Pan Classic Crime
Published April 9th 1999 by Pan Classic Crime (first published 1938)
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(showing 1-30)
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Pouting Always
The book starts off with the diary of Frank, who addressing the reader tells us that he is going to kill the man who ran over his son. The diary stops at the point where Frank is supposed to kill the person responsible but he fails and the yet the other person turns up dead anyways and Nigel Strangeways is invited over to investigate. The book is well written and intriguing, I haven't really read anything similar but I had a hard time getting into it. I think the writing felt a little dry and th ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Published in 1938 and picked by the Observer as one of the 1,000 novels everyone should read, this is the fourth in the Nigel Strangeway series, following on from A Question of Proof, Thou Shell of Death and There's Trouble Brewing. It is a stand alone mystery, although characters from previous books do appear, or are mentioned; Inspector Blount was first in "Thou Shell of Death" (in which novel Strangeways also meets his wife Georgia) and a mutual friend of the main character, Frank Cairns, and ...more
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I read an out-of-print edition of this book and was amazed at how good it was. It's a genre mystery set (and written) in 1938 England. Part of the Nigel Strangeways mystery series, this was written by Cecil Day-Lewis under the pen name Nicholas Blake. Day-Lewis was a poet laureate of England and the father of Daniel Day-Lewis. The Beast Must Die (which, as a title, makes sense when you get to the end--it's from a bible passage--but otherwise makes you think the book is something else) concerns a ...more
I am going to kill a man. I don't know his name, I don’t know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him...

What do you do when you plan a murder then, inexplicably, your victim turns up dead, and not by your hand?

Respected crime writer Frank Cairns is plotting the perfect murder of George Rattery, the hit-and-run driver who killed his young son, but when his intended victim is found dead and Cairns becomes the prime suspect, the author insists he
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novela de misterio/crimen en clave de diario, conocida en Argentina por formar parte de la colección "El Séptimo Sello" dirigida por Bioy y Borges.

Antecesora de estructuras narrativas similares a las de Gone Girl o The Girl In The Train, pero notablemente superior en su escritura.

Un escritor de libros de "misterio", o podemos decir pulp fiction, pierde a su hijo en un accidente y se obesiona con buscar al responsable. El libro es el cuidado diario de cada uno de sus pasos, obsesiones, anotacione
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever mystery with plenty of twists. I did suspect the guilty party at several points and was strongly tempted to skip to the end & check but refrained. I'm glad I didn't cheat because Blake (or Cecil Day-Lewis to use his real name) did keep me second guessing myself and threw several very plausible red herrings across the trail.

I would recommend it to any fans of the Golden Age mysteries such as those written by Agatha Christie, Margerie Allingham, Josephine Tey, Rex Stout, etc. One thing
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the Nicholas Blake novel that gets all the press--it's quite a good detective novel, with a very tricky criminal and a couple of real surprises. I liked it very much for that, but I think it misses just a little bit of real emotion in the end (it was there in the beginning). Still, the best mystery-based Blake book I've read so far.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not a typical golden age murder mystery, they are usually about solving a puzzle. There is a murder and a detective to solve it with us, but there is much more emotional involvement in the story than in most books of the type. I recommend it.
Daniela Montero
Bien escrito, un suspenso que crece poco a poco.
En un momento dudás de todo y de todos.

Una muestra de la verdadera "novela negra".
Atilio Frasson
"Voy a matar a un hombre. No sé cómo se llama, no sé dónde vive, no tengo idea de su aspecto. Pero voy a encontrarlo y lo mataré..."

Frank Cairnes es un autor de novelas policiales que ha perdido a su hijo en un accidente, un hombre lo chocó yendo a alta velocidad y no se detuvo. Cairnes lleva un diario donde relata su investigación para hallar al sujeto y, luego, donde va escribiendo cómo realizará su venganza. Pero en el momento supremo, algo no sucede como debería y los planes de desbaratan y
La belva deve morire (1938) ha un incipit fulminante: “Ho deciso di uccidere un uomo. Non so chi sia né dove viva, non ho idea di che aspetto abbia. Ma lo troverò e lo ucciderò”. Sono le prime parole del diario di Felix Lane, un padre deciso a vendicarsi del pirata della strada che ha ucciso il suo bambino. Ma come rintracciare il colpevole quando anche la polizia ci ha rinunciato? Felix ha dalla sua la forza della disperazione e il fatto di essere uno scrittore di gialli. Così prende l'avvio un ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2009, series
This book opens with a twist - the narrator confesses to be planning a murder. The reader soon learns that the narrator is Frank Cairnes, also known as writer Felix Lane, and the man he is planning to murder is the hit and run killer of his only son, Martie. Cairnes doesn't know who the man is yet, but he makes some pretty accurate deductions and soon has his victim in his sights.

You might think with a beginning like that, the rest of the book would be rather anticlimactic, but it's not. The fi
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, anglophilia
Nigel Strangeways is called in by a friend of a friend who finds himself accused of murder. The victim was a brute who beat his wife and intimidated his young son and had killed a boy in a hit-and-run accident; the general feeling is one of good riddance. The problem is that Nigel's friend, Felix Cairns is the father of the boy killed in the motor accident, and had been actively plotting a murderous revenge -and had described his plans in great detail in his journal. Yet it seems that the victim ...more
Daniel Garrison
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not really a murder mystery type reader, but I really liked this book. Good writing, great story, totally worth a read!
Angélita Manchado
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Avis sur Que la bête meure de Nicholas Blake

Un roman dur à se mettre en route. Passées les cent premières pages, il en reste encore cent pour l’enquête proprement dite après la mort de cet homme. J’ai vraiment beaucoup plus aimé cette deuxième partie beaucoup plus rythmée. Cela n’enlève rien du tout à la première partie où l’on voit le héros, Félix Lane ou encore Franck Cairnes ou encore Félix Cairnes, essayer de mettre en place un assassinat, sans vouloir se faire prendre. Il prend le lecteur à
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
The poet Cecil Day-Lewis wrote 19 mysteries under the nom de plume Nicholas Blake. I am a fan of Blake’s witty amateur sleuth and poet, Nigel Strangeways, who can hold his own with Dorothy Sayers’ brilliant Lord Peter Wimsey and Ngaio Marsh’s Roderick Alleyn. Lo and behold! I recently discovered an e-book edition of Blake’s 1938 novel, "The Beast Must Die" (Ipso Books). It was new to me, but according to The Telegraph it is one of his most famous books.

"The Beast Must Die" is structurally tricky
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
After extension detective work, Frank Cairns discovers the man (George Rattery) behind the hit-and-run death of his son. He plots to murder Rattery, keeping copious notes in his journal. When Cairns fails in his plan, yet Rattery is found murdered by someone else, his journal surfaces placing all the suspicion on him. He hires Nigel Strangeways to prove his innocence in the face of certain guilt.

This is a well-plotted, well-crafted mystery that kept me changing my mind throughout the entire boo
The opening of 'The Beast Must Die' is absolutely brilliant, hooked from the first page. It's surprisingly modern, dark and twisted, while covering a morally grey subject area that I find so intriguing. And that continued for the first half of the books ... but then it kind of, dropped. The momentum was last, what was so unique and gripping about the first half disappeared and became slightly more conventional. Which is not necessarily a bad thing - the book kept me guessing. But the ending didn ...more
Kt Paxton
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, netgalley
I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

I was intrigued to read this book, as it was a mystery/thriller written in 1938. I wanted to see how things were solved "in the good old days", without the modern conveniences of technology.

Another aspect I found interesting was the narrator was a mystery author themselves. I thought it could cause an interesting twist on the way their brain worked to solve the mystery.

An interesting read for sure.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A golden age classic for a reason. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Puzzle Doctor
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A true classic mystery novel. Full review at
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I swear, this book has one of the most amazing hooks I have ever read in a crime novel.

I am going to kill a man. I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him...

(Yes, nowadays it sounds like something Liam Neeson would say, but bear in mind that this was written in the 1930s.)

This genius hook begins a fleshed-out, sophisticated tale of revenge and how dwelling on terrible things and obsessing over vengeance can mak
Joe  Noir
"I am going to kill a man. I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him ...”

It was this opening paragraph that made me instantly want to read this novel, right there in a bookstore with no air conditioning, just a standing fan blowing on a humid 95 plus degree day.

Written in 1938 by Nicholas Blake, pseudonym of Cecil Day-Lewis, poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968-1972, and father of Academy Award winning
Simon Mcleish
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in September 2000.

A clever crime novel for its time by Poet Laureate, C. Day Lewis, The Beast Must Die is now a little obvious. This is partly because it anticipates some of the ways in which detective fiction has gone on to develop. It has one central character, Frank Cairns, and is a psychological study of a murder, like Malice Aforethought, though it seems to me that it succeeds as an analysis of the reasons for murder where that novel fails.

The novel is d
Les Wilson
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was originally published in 1938 by Collins. It is part of the series that Blake wrote featuring Nigel Strangeways, an awesome private detective who gets results where the police cannot. This classic style of this murder mystery book is very different to my usual taste and it took me a while to get into it. However, once I was comfortable with the style, I found it to be really enjoyable. It was rather refreshing to read a book that was very far-from-noir and not at all gruesome and I ...more
Whistlers Mom
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the law is powerless, are we justified in punishing a killer?

Most critics consider MINUTE FOR MURDER to be the best of this author's twenty mysteries featuring amateur detective Nigel Strangeways. They're probably right, but I think this book is outstanding. Blake took a real chance on writing a mystery in an unconventional way. Considering that this was only his fourth Strangeways book and that he was dependent on the money that the series brought in to support his family, I admire his gut
Ant Harrison
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
After an engaging start I struggled a bit with The Beast Must Die. The story of Felix Cairns and his attempt to avenge the death if his young son in a hit-and-run car collision begins in the form of a personal diary of events, before switching to a third person narrative through the eyes of Nigel Strangeways, a sort of private investigator. From this point onward it started to feel a bit leaden and forced, not helped by a lot of upper middle class lingo from the main characters.

Lots of willing
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Published in 1938 and a little dated--but well-written (the author is really poet-laureate C. Day-Lewis), with good characters and a meticulously constructed plot. This is the British mystery during its heyday by one of its best practitioners. The first half is the diary of a man tracking down and planning to murder the hit-and-run driver who killed his little son. The second half recounts the murder and then the traditional investigation. Not just an early version of Columbo--far, far more comp ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nicholas Blake made the CWA top 100 with his Nigel Strangeways novel The Beast Must Die. The novel begins with crime writer Frank Cairnes hunting down the killer of his infant son, with deadly revenge on his mind. Cairnes is a sympathetic character despite his murderous intent and you end up hoping he succeeds. There’s a largish twist in the middle and a big one at the end. Only the improbability of Cairnes’ success in finding his victim keeps it from getting five stars.

Full review
ali rezaei
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
considering the time period that this book belong to, i guess the idea of changing p.o.v from first person to An omniscient narrator type is the first half of book you face with a father compulsion of murdering some one who killed her son in car accident. changing narrator,a murderer protagonist is cool and you probably have no problem with it but in second half of book, i didn't go with the twist in plot in order make in long!! nevertheless its worth to read and 3 star is fair for ...more
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Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of poet Cecil Day-Lewis C. Day Lewis who was born in Ireland in 1904. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Cecil Day-Lewis and his wife Kathleen (nee Squires). His mother died in 1906 and he and his father moved to London where he was brought up by his father with the help of an aunt.

He spent his holidays in Wrexford and regarded himself very much as anglo-irish, al
More about Nicholas Blake...

Other Books in the Series

Nigel Strangeways (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • A Question of Proof (Nigel Strangeways, #1)
  • Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways, #2)
  • There's Trouble Brewing (Nigel Strangeways, #3)
  • The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)
  • Murder with Malice (Nigel Strangeways, #6)
  • The Corpse in the Snowman (Nigel Strangeways, #7)
  • Minute for Murder (Nigel Strangeways, #8)
  • Head of a Traveler (Nigel Strangeways, #9)
  • The Dreadful Hollow (Nigel Strangeways, #10)
  • The Whisper in the Gloom (Nigel Strangeways, #11)

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“I see you have the advantage of me,' he said. 'Very well. I'll make it as brief as I can. I'll tell you the plain facts and I only hope you won't draw the wrong conclusions from them. George Rattery had been making advances to my wife for some time. She was amused, intrigued, gratified by it - any woman might be, you know; George was a handsome brute, in his way. She may even have carried on a harmless flirtation with him. I did not remonstrate with her: if one is afraid to trust one's own wife, one has no right to be married at all. That's my view, at any rate.” 1 likes
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