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Murder Underground
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Group reads > May 2018 - Murder Underground

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Susan | 10512 comments Mod
This is the general discussion thread for our discussion of Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay, published in 1935.

Please do not post spoilers here, thank you.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Thanks for setting this up, Susan - I'm only just starting my reread, although I did read it a couple of years ago, I think. I remember it as being a fun read, so hope people will enjoy it. :)


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I really enjoyed this - it was such a fun mystery and I think it gave a great sense of the time and place.


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
I'm looking forward to it but it will be a few days before I start. My library says the book is 'in transit' and I have a book to finish, then the May Marsh.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
The boarding house/private hotel where people live permanently is an interesting setting, isn't it? Decidedly downmarket from the typical GA "country house party", but a similarly ideal setting because it involves a variety of people living in close proximity.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I'm quite fond of boarding house novels - it is an interesting setting.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Although I like the setting, I'm getting confused between all the characters in the first few pages (even though I've read it before! ) Possibly a book where it will be a good idea to make a list of who's who.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
Yes, lots of the characters seem inter-linked too. It took me a while to get to grips with all the names at first.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments Enjoyed the book although I did guess who the murderer was from quite early on, however I had by then warmed to some of the characters. I was surprised by the absence of the personality of the main policeman ,as generally in ga books the investigating officer takes a more central role. I did appreciate the map of the railway station, also the family tree was a help.


message 10: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 413 comments I'm hoping to start this tonight and will definitely join this read.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Enjoyed the book although I did guess who the murderer was from quite early on, however I had by then warmed to some of the characters. I was surprised by the absence of the personality of the main..."

Yes, the police were curiously absent in many ways, weren't they? Most of the characters seemed to want to avoid their questions too, so they had a more unsettling presence than the kindly, intelligent view of them in most GA books.


message 12: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I started this when I hoped I would be done by the first of the month. I'm almost there, but not yet. Boy, is the book dragging in the middle! The author seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time on Basil's stupid activities and very little on what I presume are the other suspects.

And I understand the confusion over the characters' names. Between Basil, Betty and Beryl, I wonder whether choosing names a bit different would have been a better Idea. Not to mention Stoggins and Slocomb!


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
Yes, some very confusing names, I agree, Mark! It took me a while to get to grips with them, but I loved the name, 'Miss Euphemia Pongleton'!


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Mark Pghfan wrote: "The author seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time on Basil's stupid activities and very little on what I presume are the other suspects..."

I'm enjoying my reread of this one, as I like the style of writing and the boarding-house setting, but I've got to agree with you, Mark, that there is an awful lot about Basil's antics and it does get a bit wearing.

I'm puzzled as to why Betty goes along with so much of it - I can only assume that Basil is very good looking, but that doesn't make much difference to readers!


message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
I've just finished this, and enjoyed it more second time around - (changed my rating from 3 stars to 4!) I must have been in the right mood for the light style of writing. A pity Mavis Doriel Hay didn't keep writing, as I've enjoyed her 3 mysteries.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I think your reaction to books does depend upon the mood you are in when you read them :)


Leslie | 592 comments I have managed to get a copy of this from my library today so will be starting soon :)


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Hope you enjoy it, Leslie.


Leslie | 592 comments I am a bit more than halfway through now. I am a bit annoyed that in Chapter 11 (Mrs. Daymer Decides to Investigate) that the name which excited her interest is withheld from the reader.


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "I am a bit more than halfway through now. I am a bit annoyed that in Chapter 11 (Mrs. Daymer Decides to Investigate) that the name which excited her interest is withheld from the reader."

Oh, that's true - that is a bit of a cheat, like in Sherlock Holmes stories when he picks up a clue and puts it in his pocket, rather than letting Watson or the readers in on it!


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
I have been really enjoying the breezy banter and the boarding house setting. Basil's landlady's interview with the press was amusing ... so glad she wasn't going to give anything away!


Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments Sandy wrote: "I have been really enjoying the breezy banter and the boarding house setting. Basil's landlady's interview with the press was amusing ... so glad she wasn't going to give anything away!"

I liked the interview too, Sandy. There were some nice humorous touches in this book - Basil calling poor Tuppy a pug and then a poodle made me smile too.


message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Pamela, I was confused about whether Tuppy was a pug or a terrier - if Basil called him a pug as a joke, suddenly all becomes clear. Thanks for that! :)


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
This turned out to be a fun read with more humor than mystery. Although it was a cast of stock characters I thought they interacted realistically, even Betty accepting of Basil's pleas of help.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I thought the characters made it work, Sandy. As you say, they did behave realistically and seemed to accept each others weaknesses.


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Although I really enjoyed this book, it strikes me that it doesn't make the most of the London Tube as a murder scene. Has anyone read a book which uses the location better? I've read quite a few train-themed murder mysteries, but I think they all happen above ground.


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
The victim never even made it to the underground!

My partner just bought London Underground, but, from the description, I can't recommend it, and riding the underground after reading it could be a problem. Something about giant rats! I'll follow up if he ever reads it.


message 28: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
You lost me at giant rats, Sandy. :(


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
Ha ha! Yes, steam trains are, perhaps, more romantic and scenic?


message 30: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Yes, steam trains seem to be very popular in mysteries, both in print and on TV. The GA mystery I'm currently reading, Murder has a Motive by Francis Duncan, has a steam train pictured on the cover, but I think there has only been a very brief mention of a train so far in the book!


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I must read Francis Duncan. I tried to find the 'first' book in the series online yesterday, but couldn't seem to track down the title, Judy. Apparently, even the author's children hadn't read his books for fifty years!


message 32: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I must read Francis Duncan. I tried to find the 'first' book in the series online yesterday, but couldn't seem to track down the title, Judy. Apparently, even the author's children hadn't read his ..."

Yes, amazing how he had disappeared, since I think he's a really good writer. I think you will like him, Susan. Do you mean you couldn't find Murder has a Motive, the first of the reprints? This is published by Vintage and it's on Kindle - I was lucky that my library had a copy. I don't even know which title was the true first book in the series, though!


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
I think Murder has a Motive, is the second book, Judy. I was trying to find the 'first,' but I didn't have any luck. I will download/read Francis Duncan, I am sure. Indeed, I think I read one, possibly the Christmas one, when it came out...


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Murder Has a Motive is the first of the reprints going on original publication order (originally published 1947), according to the series pages on Goodreads and Fantastic Fiction.

I think it is probably the second or third book of his full series, but the titles which haven't been reprinted (yet!) seem to be incredibly obscure...


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Getting back to Mavis Doriel Hay, it's a shame she didn't keep on writing mysteries - I've read all 3 of her novels now and enjoyed them.


Lesley | 384 comments This was a lovely diversion from the usual detective mystery. Not really a cozy since none of the characters assumed the role of amateur detective, and the police seemed to be there in the background. This left the reader to unravel the clues given, and assume the role of mystery solver. I liked it as a change from the norm, and enjoyed the ending too.

She only wrote two others that I can see. I will definitely be reading them.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
It was a shame that Mavis Doriel Hay gave up writing mysteries - she was very good and I enjoyed this one. An unusual setting, a good cast of characters and a dose of humour. I think she was one of the first novels re-printed in the library series?


message 38: by Judy (last edited May 26, 2018 11:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9408 comments Mod
Yes, and I think for a long while she was the only woman they had chosen to republish, although now they have republished some more - initially they went for mainly male writers because the 'big four’ are all female, I remember reading.


Susan | 10512 comments Mod
Male writers are under-represented in GA fiction, I suppose. Still, it is nice to see something where the 'Big Four,' are all female.


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