Reading the Detectives discussion

The Abbey Court Murder (Inspector Furnival, #1)
This topic is about The Abbey Court Murder
35 views
Group reads > The Abbey Court Murder - SPOILER thread

Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for The Abbey Court Murder by Annie Haynes.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread, as it is assumed that anyone reading this thread has finished the book.


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
I have struggled slightly with a lot of these, long out of print, mysteries. They are interesting to read, but I can see how they were allowed to fall by the wayside, as I don't think this novel stands the test of time as well as a Sayers, for example. It seems to straddle an earlier time, as well as the Golden Age, with quite a romantic, almost Victorian, feel. What did anyone else think? A little melodramatic?


message 3: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Susan wrote: "quite a romantic, almost Victorian, feel. "

Exactly - to me this was 'mis-filed' as GA mystery and was more Victorian 'sensation' novel. It seemed to derive much of its plot from Lady Audley's Secret (though the latter inverts gender in more interesting ways), with a touch of Bleak House in the 'Lady with a secret' and manipulative French maid.

I enjoyed it, all the same, once I'd let go of my whodunnit expectations.


message 4: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Oh, and how funny to have a lady 'swoon' for real!


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
Yes, I wish I could 'swoon.' The only time I have actually fainted I managed to go head first into a door!


message 6: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Sadly far more realistic than subsiding gently onto a sofa in a handy gentleman's arms! It does seem an ideal way to avoid awkward social situations though: #IwishIcouldswoon


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
Yes, and more painful afterwards. Where is the chaise lounge when you need one?!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1864 comments Wasn't it supposed to be the tight corsets (lack of oxygen to the brain) that made the ladies swoon? Just not worth being that uncomfortable!


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
This really did seem like a mystery from an older age, didn't it? I could see corsets and candles, rather than jazz and flappers.


Carolien (carolien_s) | 442 comments These books really became the bridge between the Victorian, Gothic earlier crime novels and the subsequent more procedural based books. I must admit I struggled with the sheer amount of melodrama in this one.


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Wasn't it supposed to be the tight corsets (lack of oxygen to the brain) that made the ladies swoon? Just not worth being that uncomfortable!"

I'm just reading a book about the lives of Edwardian servants, and they were expected to wear corsets as well - the book points out that it can't have been easy to scrub floors etc in those garments. I wonder how often the maids and cooks swooned too?


message 12: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Were maids and cooks allowed to swoon - or was that a practice reserved for 'ladies'? Perhaps working women only fainted :))


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
I think not wearing corsets was considered a bit 'fast and loose,' Judy, so it was probably a moral thing at the time as well...


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
A lot of outrageous coincidences surrounding the villain in this book. Was anyone in much doubt about his identity?


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
No, not really. It was not really a 'whodunnit,' was it? Although there was some mystery surrounding the former husband, etc.


Sandy | 2549 comments Mod
I was surprised that villain was the Lee's dead son. Did his mother not recognize him? Or did I miss something?

I thought it amusing that the family birthmark recognized only the legitimate heirs and the villain had to apply his own.


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I was surprised that villain was the Lee's dead son. Did his mother not recognize him? Or did I miss something?

I thought it amusing that the family birthmark recognized only the legitimate heirs ..."


Even if there is a family birthmark, surely not everyone would have it? I found the whole thing wholly implausible to be honest! I do not doubt that the author was very successful, but I suspect she would have been displaced by the new wave of crime authors anyway. Still, historically, it is interesting to read these books and see the transition to GA fiction, as we know it, was not just a smooth switch, but there was crossover for a while in styles.


message 18: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Oh yes, the inherited family birthmark made me giggle, too. I like Victorian gothic so once I realised, I was able to settle back and enjoy this.

The detective seems to act more like a private investigator than a Met officer - can't imagine him giving evidence in court while accounting for his disguises!


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
Yes, that was SO odd! Why would he need to go everywhere in disguise? Undercover work is one thing, but that was a little extreme...

I thought the book was well written and interesting, but I was more curious in terms of the style and as an example of very early GA writing, rather than gripped by the story itself.


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "Oh yes, the inherited family birthmark made me giggle, too. I like Victorian gothic so once I realised, I was able to settle back and enjoy this.

The detective seems to act more like a private inv..."


Haha, me too - it hadn't struck me about the birthmark only recognising men born in wedlock until Sandy pointed it out!

I think the detective is pretty mean to the French maid who thinks he is her new boyfriend - does he really need to carry on the bogus romance to quite the extent that he does?


message 21: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 733 comments Is that because he's suspicious of her (she is French, after all!)? Or does she start her little 'thing' with the villain after that? She reminded me of a 'lite' version of Hortense in Bleak House. Not that any of that excuses the detective's behaviour...


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
They were quite heartless to the maid. The 'betrayal' of her mistress showed how difficult it must have been to have trusted servants. In fact, this novel shows our heroine being very secretive and there is an implication that the servants don't accept her because she was once a governess and, therefore, one of them. Must be difficult to make that crossing between the baize door...


Robin (rretzler) | 7 comments I was quite disappointed in the book. After all the hype in the introduction about Haynes and Christie being the only women published by The Bodley Head, I expected a much better book.

This definitely was not a whodunit - I think most of us figured out right away who the actual murderer was. Sandy asked if the mother didn't recognize her son - I think she did and didn't want to give the whole thing away. I seem to recall that she was rather sly about the entire conversation, and then all of a sudden the Lee family was taking over the tenancy of the farm. Of course, she knew what was going on but wasn't going to spoil her chance for a share of the money and the good life!

I have to say that I got very tired of the way that Judith was so scared all the time of being found out, even though she had a happy marriage. It seems that the first 40% of the book, and then quite a bit after that was taken up with her introspection.

Also, I didn't care much for Inspector Furnival. The only actual detection that was done was outside of the narrative, it seems. I'm still a little fuzzy about how the police knew that the Carew's had some involvement - they only confirmed ownership of the gun and the fan that were left behind once they knew the Carew's were involved, so how did they know in the first place? That was a major plot hole for me, unless I missed something.

Susan, I'm surprised that the servants accepted her as much as they did - of course, governesses, I think, were in that in-between gray area - not really a servant, but not part of the family either.


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "Is that because he's suspicious of her (she is French, after all!)? Or does she start her little 'thing' with the villain after that? She reminded me of a 'lite' version of Hortense in Bleak House...."

I agree she is reminiscent of Hortense - quite a few stereotyped sinister French maids have followed in her wake over the years!


message 25: by Pages (last edited Jan 06, 2018 07:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pages | 61 comments I would have given this three and a half stars if I could but left it at four as it did make me want to keep turning the pages.

Yes, I figured out who the actual murderer was early on and confirmed my guess when Judith started feeling faint about the blue star mark.

Things would have been a lot easier if Judith and Anthony had been honest with one another but it was interesting seeing them so tortured all the time.

I'm so glad Penny told Judith about Lord Chesterfakey, because I was going to be really annoyed if she kept that a secret. Though, she did annoy me, in the end, wearing her all black and woes me with Stephen. But alls wells that ends well.

I didn't think much of Furnival either. I didn't mind him but didnt think anything of him. Is he more central in the other stories or he still pretends to be dopey and fade in the background till his tada moment?


Sandy | 2549 comments Mod
Farrah wrote: "I would have given this three and a half stars if I could but left it at four as it did make me want to keep turning the pages.

Yes, I figured out who the actual murderer was early on and confirme..."


If Judith and Anthony had been open with one another there wouldn't have been a story. I thought the only character who acted completely rationally was Stephen.

Furnival shows promise as an involved investigator.


Pages | 61 comments Hi Sandy,

I liked Stephen too.

I think it depends on the writer. Sometimes you have characters withholding information but it’s written in a way that doesn’t make you want to yell at them.

Furnival passed by me in this one but perhaps in later books he has a more central role in the book.

Has anyone read on in the series?


message 28: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
I've read the second book, The House in Charlton Crescent. I don't remember it in a lot of detail, but I know I enjoyed it and my memory is that the mystery is stronger than in the first book.


Leslie | 592 comments Robin wrote: "Also, I didn't care much for Inspector Furnival. The only actual detection that was done was outside of the narrative, it seems. I'm still a little fuzzy about how the police knew that the Carew's had some involvement - they only confirmed ownership of the gun and the fan that were left behind once they knew the Carew's were involved, so how did they know in the first place? That was a major plot hole for me, unless I missed something...."

It was Furnival's notice of the fact that the dead man had the blue star birthmark which drew him to the area, searching for a connection to the Chesterham family.

I liked the book okay but I agree that there was little detection. I found it irritating to have the story told primarily from Judith's point of view while hiding from the reader facts about her past which obviously she knew. It would have been better from Anthony's point of view I think or even Stephen's.


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
I agree, Lesley. Judith was quite annoying. I know she married above her, etc. but she had a child with her husband and could, surely, have been more honest with him. I would like to see whether Inspector Furnival improves in later books, but I am not sure I will be motivated to read the next in the series.


Sandy | 2549 comments Mod
I am also curious about Furnival as he could be an interesting and offbeat addition to detecting, but doubt I will continue.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 322 comments I also found this quite disappointing after a good start. The plot was weak and melodramatic (baby Paul's illness was the last straw in that respect!) and Judith's agonising over her secret went on far too long.

I did like Furnival though, he made me laugh but he was also persistent and decent.

With regard to Mrs Lee, I seem to remember she did recognise 'Chesterham' at first, but when he showed her his blue star, she thought she was mistaken. I'm sure she became aware later on, when he started giving property to the family.


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
I agree that this was very melodramatic, Pamela. I thought it was interesting, but it was surprising it was published in 1923, a full 3 years after The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It made me aware of just how good Agatha Christie was, when I re-read it!


message 34: by Valerie (last edited Jan 30, 2018 04:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Valerie Brown | 54 comments This was my first read with this group.

I enjoyed it quite a lot - even though it isn't a mystery (or at least how I think of mysteries!). In my mind there was no question who did it, early on. I found it quite amusing though, with all of the melodrama..... 'the mist' coming over the various characters was fantastic! Once I realized that it hadn't aged well, I just enjoyed the ride! It seems to me that this book was in the style of an earlier era.

All of that said, I'm glad you all picked this book as one of your group reads. I enjoy discovering new 'mystery' (or not) authors of the period; and even if it wasn't a mystery per se it is always fun to read a new to you author. I see from the 'non-spoiler' thread that her second book (in the series??) is better. I may give it a go at a future date.


Susan | 9415 comments Mod
Good to have you reading along, Valerie. We hope you enjoy some of our future reads too :)


message 36: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8409 comments Mod
Glad you enjoyed it, Valerie - that is pretty much how I felt about it too, that it wasn't really a mystery but was still an enjoyable read. And yes, that mist was a great touch!

I liked the second book in this series, The House in Charlton Crescent, which is more of a traditional mystery, and will also hope to read other books by her. (The only series connection between those 2 is the detective, who I don't think is a very memorable character.)


Valerie Brown | 54 comments Susan wrote: "Good to have you reading along, Valerie. We hope you enjoy some of our future reads too :)"

I'm sure I will!


Valerie Brown | 54 comments Judy wrote: "Glad you enjoyed it, Valerie - that is pretty much how I felt about it too, that it wasn't really a mystery but was still an enjoyable read. And yes, that mist was a great touch!

I liked the secon..."


Thanks for the link, I've added that book to the ever expanding TBR list!


message 39: by Suki (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 58 comments I just finished the book, and I found the whole Victorian melodrama element quite amusing, and I did also enjoy the mystery element, even though the puzzle itself was rather transparent. I was surprised, though, at the murderer's true identity-- Ronald Lee, the "good" Lee, who had been lost at sea. I liked the characters enough to be glad that they had a happy ending, even though the last scene was waaaay too romance novel for my taste.


back to top