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The Murder at Sissingham Hall (Angela Marchmont Mystery #1)
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Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for our discussion of The Murder at Sissingham Hall by Clara Benson.

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


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2061 comments My disappointment with this book was because I thought the murderer was obvious from quite early on. Also it seemed to me that Knox started out as quite an intelligent man but then seemed to get less and less intelligent as it went on.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I remember guessing the murderer quite early on in this one first time round too, Jill, but I didn't mind too much because I enjoyed the writing style.

I've also read 3 more books in the series and I think they are even better than this first one, even though I enjoyed it a lot - but, so far, I do find her solutions a bit easier to guess than those of some other authors!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2061 comments Yes, although I had worked it out, I did find I wanted to read on to see what happened to the characters, some of which I couldn't help liking.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
I must be hopeless, as I never guessed for ages. I couldn't understand why Charles liked Rosamund and why he would consider making the 'ultimate sacrifice,' for her!


Sandy | 2787 comments Mod
This book was definitely a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the setting, the writing and the characters but with exceptions.

I guessed Rosamund was at least an accomplice, if not the murderer, once she dragged Charles out of the room to be a witness to her 'conversation'. I can see why Charles would not suspect anything in real life, but I felt it was too obvious in a novel.

Then, all of the characters, Charles most of all but even Angela, immediately discussed any and all clues, suspicions or facts they got from the police, with the rest of the party even after one of them had to be guilty. Charles discussing the will was in very bad taste, as he realized, but he did it anyway.

I found it hard to accept Rosamund's power over Charles who had seemed of perfectly normal intelligence and taste (witness his budding relationship with Sylvia) until his brain turned to mush.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2061 comments Sandy wrote: "This book was definitely a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the setting, the writing and the characters but with exceptions.

I guessed Rosamund was at least an accomplice, if not the murderer, once she..."


That was exactly what I meant. Charles was of normal intelligence, and then he just seemed to lose it gradually as the book went on. I just didn't think that was plausible.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I'm still rereading it, but I think first time around I just assumed he was overwhelmed by memories of his past love for Rosamund. But yes, maybe he should still smell a rat!


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Rosamund seemed a little unlikeable from her first introduction, to my mind.

That aside, I enjoyed the setting, most of the characters and found this an easy read.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Jill wrote: "Yes, although I had worked it out, I did find I wanted to read on to see what happened to the characters, some of which I couldn't help liking."

Same here Jill- I guessed pretty early on as well who the killer was- and there were hints aplenty about Rosamund and Charles' pal (sorry about the names - I haven't reread this since I read it quite recently but am terrible with names)- Charles seemed the only one who didn't catch on. But I did want to read on to see how things would turn out.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments But there were a few surprises along the way though- Charles' secret for instance, I didn't see coming at all.


Sandy | 2787 comments Mod
I missed all the hints about Rosamund and Bobs. Though I knew Bobs had some secret but didn't give it much thought. And Charles' secret was also a complete surprise to me, and a red herring. It also made him an unreliable narrator as he didn't give us the complete interactions with Neville (? Rosamund's husband).


message 13: by Lady Clementina (last edited Apr 03, 2018 06:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Sandy wrote: "I missed all the hints about Rosamund and Bobs. Though I knew Bobs had some secret but didn't give it much thought. And Charles' secret was also a complete surprise to me, and a red herring. It als..."

After that (Charles' secret) I actually wondered whether they'd be a twist in the main plot as well.

Re the husband, may be the author anted to leave things hazy so that she could leave it to our interpretation. I really don't remember this bit so clearly.


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

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2061 comments By the time Charles murder trial came out, I just didn't think he was clever enough to get off if he had actually committed murder. So just saw this as having been thrown in to muddy the water.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Jill wrote: "By the time Charles murder trial came out, I just didn't think he was clever enough to get off if he had actually committed murder. So just saw this as having been thrown in to muddy the water."

Ha ha ha- he was rather dim wasn't he?


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Do we think it is likely that, as Charles was actually acquitted in a murder trial, it is possible that the British press didn't report it at all? I would have thought his trial would have had some mention in the papers, even then?

Also, what did we think of some of the other characters?

Gwendolyn, who was banking (rather openly!) on her husband inheriting, if Rosamund did not give birth to an heir; which must have been a real possibility.

Also, Joan Havelock, Sir Neville's ward and her love for Simon Gale. Again, we saw the Great War intrude on a mystery and, again, there is a real lack of sympathy for the secretary's 'nerves,' from other characters - including Charles...

It seemed to me the sympathy in this book was all misplaced. Rosamund was a poor little thing, kept in the country, away from the bright lights of the city and her beauty hidden from the world. Poor Joan was a lump and Simon seen as something of an embarrassment.


message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I thought it was unlikely Gwen would be too excited about the prospect of her husband inheriting, given how young Rosamund is!


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Yes, she seemed to think it was a given thing that they would inherit, but I thought it was unlikely. It reminded me of And Then There Were None, with Hugo and Vera sending poor Cyril off for a swim to the rocks, thinking that he wanted to inherit.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I've now finished rereading this book, and have realised that I'd misremembered whodunit from my previous read only a couple of years ago!

For some reason I'd got it into my head that it was Bobs, and Rosamund was covering up for him... so much for me saying I found it easy to work out first time around. Clearly my detective powers have worsened! :)


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Ha ha! I am hopeless at solving mysteries, even if I have read them before, so I sympathise, Judy :)


Leslie | 592 comments Susan wrote: "I must be hopeless, as I never guessed for ages. I couldn't understand why Charles liked Rosamund and why he would consider making the 'ultimate sacrifice,' for her!"

That section was a bit odd to me -- for an instant, I wondered if somehow Rosamund was hypnotizing Charles!

I also figured out who the culprit was early on - even before the murder occurred! Of course, I knew who was killed from the blurb at the beginning. Once she insisted on Charles accompanying her to see if Neville would join the party & then ran ahead to talk through the door, that confirmed it for me.

What I didn't figure out until quite late (though still sooner than Charles) was that Bobs & Rosamund were having an affair.

I liked the little I saw of Angela Marchmont but she played a remarkably small part in the book. What do you guys think?


Sandy | 2787 comments Mod
I also liked what little we saw of Angela. If it were not her series I would have assumed she was a minor character, although one of the brighter of the bunch. It will be interesting to see her in later books.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Sandy wrote: "I also liked what little we saw of Angela. If it were not her series I would have assumed she was a minor character, although one of the brighter of the bunch. It will be interesting to see her in ..."

She is pretty much on the sidelines in this one isn't she? I'm also interested to see if this changes as the series moves on.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Leslie wrote: "Susan wrote: "I must be hopeless, as I never guessed for ages. I couldn't understand why Charles liked Rosamund and why he would consider making the 'ultimate sacrifice,' for her!"

That section wa..."


I didn't catch onto Bobs and Rosamund too soon either but like you, it was before Charles, and thinking back to the hints, I thought I ought to have realised it sooner


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
I gradually fell in about Bobs and Rosamund. It wasn't very thoughtful to invite Charles there, considering his past, unless they planned to set him up from the very beginning. Bobs didn't come out of things that well, to be honest.


message 26: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Yes, I was quite surprised when Bobs actually turns up to accompany Charles at the end. I'm wondering if there will be a mention of Charles anywhere else in the series - probably not, I suppose, to avoid spoilers for anyone reading out of order. I've read the next 3 books and he hasn't turned up so far...


message 27: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "That section was a bit odd to me -- for an instant, I wondered if somehow Rosamund was hypnotizing Charles!
..."


I wondered this too - or if she had somehow drugged him!

I agree Angela doesn't play a very big role in this book, but she is the central character in the next books in the series.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
I really did enjoy this and want to read on. Good to hear the next books are good, Judy!


message 29: by Pamela (last edited Apr 07, 2018 01:04AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 362 comments Oh dear, this one really wasn't for me, I thought it was awful!

It started Ok, and I liked the setting up of the characters, e.g. Simon Gale with his nerves and the grabby Gwen. Then there was that clunky listening at the door that just made it so obvious Rosamund was involved. And then Angela keeping her away from Gwen. I'm usually so lost in the mystery that I don't spot the villain, but this was so heavy handed I couldn't miss it.

Then came that ludicrous denouement and I just started laughing. Especially as he'd seen the light once, and then just fell into the trap again. How on earth did Charles survive his experiences in Africa? Presumably those at his trial thought he was too dim to have successfully murdered anyone. Still, I can't say it wasn't fun, maybe not in the way the author intended.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 758 comments I think if it had been my first Clara Benson I wouldn't have read any more, but I'd already enjoyed a couple of Freddy Pilkington Soames, and a later Angela Marchmont where their paths cross, so I just decided this was an experiment that didn't work. The closed door conversation might work as a red herring in some cases, but when it's set up so deliberately (by the murderer, rather than by the author, who has to be allowed to put her characters into position) it defeats its object, unless the witness, and subsequently the detective, is peculiarly stupid.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 362 comments That's interesting Rosina. To be fair, I do usually give authors another book before I make my mind up so I may return to Benson. There are more authors I want to read first, though.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Pamela, I really do sympathise with your reaction to Charles and his behaviour at the end. It was SO wrong, I quite agree. He would never, I hope, have been so stupid. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I felt much the same as you about the Patricia Wentworth's we read.


message 33: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Did anyone like Joan? I thought she was a good character and at one stage I was hoping she and Charles might get together - but clearly her heart belongs to Simon.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Judy wrote: "Did anyone like Joan? I thought she was a good character and at one stage I was hoping she and Charles might get together - but clearly her heart belongs to Simon."

I didn't consider Joan-Charles at all- I felt he was beginning to get interested in Sylvia, and then he went and started to ve a fool about Rosamund again.


message 35: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Yes, I’m not sure what the chances are that he does actually end up with Sylvia after all.


Sandy | 2787 comments Mod
I think (hope) Sylvia will find she can do much better ... though he is rich and she can supply the brains. And maybe Charles will revert back to his pre-Rosamund personality. I hope Charles and Bobs can stay out of trouble in South Africa.

Was Bobs ever a real name? Or just a school nickname?


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Judy wrote: "Yes, I’m not sure what the chances are that he does actually end up with Sylvia after all."

I doubt it too after the way he behaved- at the beginning though, I'd thought may be.


message 38: by Lady Clementina (last edited Apr 10, 2018 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Sandy wrote: "I think (hope) Sylvia will find she can do much better ... though he is rich and she can supply the brains. And maybe Charles will revert back to his pre-Rosamund personality. I hope Charles and Bo..."

Nickname I think- yes, let's hope they don't go and pop someone else off.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
I hoped Joan and Simon stayed together. She was nice.


message 40: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2061 comments I'm hoping Sylvia doesn't end up with Charles as I think she is much too good for him.


message 41: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I think (hope) Sylvia will find she can do much better ... though he is rich and she can supply the brains. ..."

This comment gave me the giggles while I was walking along the road and gained me a funny look from a passer-by! :)


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "Sandy wrote: "I think (hope) Sylvia will find she can do much better ... though he is rich and she can supply the brains. ..."

This comment gave me the giggles while I was walking along the road a..."


:)

I suspect Charles and Bobs will get up to no good in South Africa and discover new women to give their attention too. Maybe even on the ship going there...


Pamela (bibliohound) | 362 comments I think Bobs is one of the reasons this felt modern rather than GA to me. He really is a bit of a scoundrel, but Charles is very indulgent and even admiring of his escapades and how he gets away with things. I felt a GA writer would either have Bobs come to a sticky end or else repent of his wicked ways.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
That's a good point, Pamela. I felt much the same way about An Expert in Murder An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey, #1) by Nicola Upson our next buddy read (thread opening this weekend).

Although I enjoyed the mystery, it felt too modern to me, but I will save my thoughts for that discussion...


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I'm currently listening to An Expert in Murder on audiobook, Susan, and enjoying it so far.

I was also surprised by how forgiving Charles is to Bobs, bearing in mind just how he has treated him! I think if it was me I'd want to go on a very long journey in the opposite direction to him, not with him.


message 46: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I suspect Charles and Bobs will get up to no good in South Africa and discover new women to give their attention too. Maybe even on the ship going there...."

I remember you are a fan of shipboard mysteries, Susan. If Clara Benson had decided to stick with Charles instead of Angela, she would have had plenty of scope with their journey to South Africa! However, I'm very glad she did decide to go with Angela as her main character.


Susan | 10013 comments Mod
I also listened to An Expert in Murder on audiobook, Judy. I thought the reading helped keep me interested.


message 48: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8938 comments Mod
I was convinced I'd bought An Expert on Murder on Kindle when it was on special offer, but turned out I hadn't! But I found out the audiobook was on Scribd, so I'm giving it a listen and really liking it so far.


Tania | 423 comments I finished this the other night. I enjoyed it but I also found the ending a bit far fetched. Hard to believe Rosamund could so easily persuade Charles to make the ultimate sacrifice, especially when he'd just found out what an awfully selfish person she really was.


Sandy | 2787 comments Mod
I totally agree. I decided to "ignore" that rather ridiculous scene and hope the author finds more realistic endings in the future.


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