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Murder Underground
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Group reads > Murder Underground - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10521 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for our discussion of Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay, published in 1935.

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


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Miss Pongleton had a fortune of £30,000 - approximately 1.5 million today, although rather more than that if one thinks of house prices! Isn't it a) rather odd that she should choose to live in a boarding house, and b) that Beryl and Gerry should be quite so unconcerned about inheriting the money?


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
She was suggested to be a bit mean, so possibly she preferred living cheaply. She never had to hire servants, for example, and she had plenty of free dog walkers :)


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
Wow, I had failed to think about just how much £30,000 was in those days, Rosina!

As well as Miss P's meanness, I wonder if living in a boarding house was a sort of equivalent of sheltered housing for her, with a landlady on hand to attend to her needs? Although, with all that money, she could have had a big house and servants!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments It also provided her with company, as it would seem that her relatives didn't really like her.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Yes, that's true, Jill. She had people whose lives were involved with her and she might have been lonely otherwise. She liked to interfere and was quite nosy, so a boarding house was ideal for her.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
After finishing my reread of Murder Underground, I've just read a review of it over at Curtis Evans's The Passing Tramp blog. He didn't like the book because he thinks it treats the murder too lightly.

http://thepassingtramp.blogspot.co.uk...

Just wondered what others think about this aspect? Although it's true that the book is very light and sometimes comic, and the victim is unpopular (as so often in GA mysteries) I really don't think the author is particularly humorous about the death itself - the humour centres on the various characters in the boarding house.

There are quite a few comments such as this one from Beryl, which I think do recognise the seriousness of the crime:

"Oh!" - she shook herself disgustedly - "it's all so beastly! Why must we keep on talking about it? And no one seems to think about poor Aunt Phemia herself - only what did the murderer do, and what would you do, and so on without end. And it's no use!"

I also think the murderer himself is made very creepy and impossible to sympathise with for a moment.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
As we've said before, there are historical reasons why GA authors didn't delve too much into the gory and violent. I don't think the murder was treated lightly, although the victim, as so often in these books, is not too sympathetic a character.


message 9: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I find that in GA books, there is such a wide range of ways to "feel for" either the victim or the murderer, that someone who feels one way about it is bound to be disappointed. I'm less concerned about these things than I am about whether I am drawn into the story narrative, whether the ending is a surprise, and whether the clues or at least the solution are/is plausible.


message 10: by Pamela (last edited May 07, 2018 02:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments Just finished this and I really enjoyed it. I didn't feel the murder was treated lightly, and actually all the characters (except the villain obviously) wanted to see justice done and not have Bob punished if he wasn't guilty, which would suggest they did take the crime itself seriously.

I did agree with the blogger that Hay seemed a bit uncomfortable with the police investigation, though, and preferred the amateur sleuths. I'm sure the police would have followed up the footprint much earlier, rather than just looking at people's feet when they popped into the police station!


Sandy | 3010 comments Mod
Regarding Beryl's indifference to inheriting the money, I assume that no one knew just how much money there was as the victim lived so cheaply. And thanks for the conversion into todays dollars. I had no idea!


Leslie | 592 comments Pamela wrote: "I did agree with the blogger that Hay seemed a bit uncomfortable with the police investigation, though, and preferred the amateur sleuths. I'm sure the police would have followed up the footprint much earlier, rather than just looking at people's feet when they popped into the police station! ..."

I wonder if that is because it is easier to make mistakes involving police investigation - no one can claim that your amateur didn't follow correct procedures! Not that I felt that anyone other than Mrs. Daylmer did any real sleuthing.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
It did look from the blurb on the book that the members of the boarding house came together to solve the crime, but it was far more haphazard than that, wasn't it?


Sandy | 3010 comments Mod
Definitely more haphazard!

And the police had searched in Basil's room for shoes. I chuckled at their disappointment when the footwear of any potential suspect did not match the footprint.

Another on-going joke was Mrs Daylmer's natural clothing, especially the wet sheep wool with its original oil.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Hmmm, I suspect that Mrs Daylmer had an original aroma :)


Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments Susan wrote: "Hmmm, I suspect that Mrs Daylmer had an original aroma :)"

That's made me chuckle :)


Tracey | 254 comments I read this book a couple of years ago (and have a tbr pile too high to reread at the moment). I enjoyed the diverse residents of the boarding house. Although agree that the police procedure to catch the killer was pretty farcical at times!

If you enjoyed this, you may want to know that Basil and Betty pop up again in Death on the Cherwell.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
That's good to know, Tracey. That's the only one of hers I haven't read, but I will get to it.


Lorraine Petkus | 43 comments I just finished the book. I'm a senior and remember boarding houses, so it was a trip down memory lane for me which I wanted to savor. I think this is the first mystery I've ever read where the residents solved the murder by coming up with different pieces of the puzzle. Loved it.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Good to hear you liked it, Lorraine. I must admit I have a real liking for boarding house novels :) Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves of Solitude is a favourite (not a mystery though).


Lorraine Petkus | 43 comments Susan wrote: "Good to hear you liked it, Lorraine. I must admit I have a real liking for boarding house novels :) Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves of Solitude is a favourite (not a mystery though)."
Thanks Susan, sounds like a book I'll enjoy


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Mr Thwaites is a character you will love to hate, Lorraine, if you do read it!


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