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Goodbye to Murder (Black Heath Classic Crime)
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Buddy Reads > Goodbye to Murder (1946) by Donald Henderson (June 2020)

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Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Welcome to our June 2020 buddy read of...

Goodbye to Murder (1946) by Donald Henderson

Originally published in 1946, this classic thriller, by turns unnerving and moving in its depiction of a woman driven to murder, was one of only a handful of crime novels completed by Donald Henderson before his untimely death.

Goodbye to Murder (1946) is also available at a bargain price (99 pence) for kindle users in the UK

The blurb...
Much to her surprise, Thelma Winterton finds that she is more concerned about being late for her husband’s cocktail party than she is about having committed her first murder. Hurrying back to her flat she recalls the journey from bored orphan schoolgirl to bored housewife, to killer - and contemplates her next move. For Thelma's eyes are only just beginning to open to the extent of the oppression she has suffered at the hands of her insufferable husband and domineering mother-in-law - and she will do anything to escape, even if she has to hang for it.

Goodbye to Murder (1946) by Donald Henderson

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I have now started Goodbye to Murder. Although I wasn't all that keen on Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper I am willing to give this try. Only a short way in but seems interesting "

I'm right behind you Jill - looking forward to comparing notes

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Four chapters in now and I am struck by a similar atmosphere to the enjoyable Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper.

We also know from the off who the murderer is, and get some sort of insights into what has driven her to this state of affairs.

I was really struck by the paucity of options Thelma felt she had, and how she just drifted into marriage with the first vaguely suitable man who appears on the horizon. Needless to say she quickly comes to loathe him.

Goodbye to Murder has started very promisingly.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I'm 70 % in now, and if I was contemplating murder there are a couple of people I would happily "bump-off" I am liking this one more than the previous book."

I'm now about 25% through.

Once again it's got a very strange atmosphere and that I really appreciate, it's almost surreal

Thelma is a wonderful character - as is her throughly self absorbed husband Adrian

Adrian's mother is also an amusing creation - complete with hen pecked husband. How many of these couples really existed? They were such a stereotype of the era.

Thelma's dawning realisation about her own intelligence, and that of her husband, is also a joy.

It's such a shame Donald Henderson died before he could write more books.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
The debate scene is a goodie too.

What do you make of Adrian? Is he a homosexual? Or just very repressed? I suspect the former. Is it made explicit later in the story I wonder?

Either way, I think this is another terrific read from DH

It's also very good on evoking life during WW2 in London.

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments I have finished this now, and did find it more engaging than the previous book. I'm not sure if he was homosexual or just self-obsessed, although his constantly telling Thelma she was boy-like would point to it.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
As might his obsessively close relationship with his mother, his disclination to discuss sex with Thelma, or indeed his lack of any kind of physical desire for her.

I'm glad you liked it Jill. I look forward to reading more about your reaction to it.

Susan | 9065 comments Mod
I have just started this now. As you are both ahead, I will share my thoughts. Thelma has just met Adrian. It is interesting that, even at school, she is mentioned as somewhat rough and there has been incidents with a lacrosse stick and a pillow/cushion...

I enjoyed the beginning and the unfolding picture of Thelma and Adrian's marriage. Really enjoying this so far.

Pamela (bibliohound) | 458 comments Oh no, I thought this was starting mid month, I'd better hurry up and start then.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "Oh no, I thought this was starting mid month, I'd better hurry up and start then."

There's no hurry Pamela - we'll keep it spoiler free. Just join in when you are ready.

Elizabeth will be joining in mid-month too

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I enjoyed the beginning and the unfolding picture of Thelma and Adrian's marriage. Really enjoying this so far"

Great news Susan.

I'm at 40% now and the main focus is still on the marriage and it's still fascinating

Susan | 9065 comments Mod
Yes, no rush. I am still not far in.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
I'm about halfway though now and, compared with Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper, it feels slightly slower.

Both books share that sense of domestic claustrophobia and offer a credible slice of 1940s wartime London life.

Like Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper, this is darkly comic, slightly amoral and it illuminates an abnormal world which is, also, all too believable.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
You certainly got some strange folk at the Pennines! That was why it was so exciting living here! You never really knew what was going on in your neighbour’s head, or what might not be taking place in the flat above, below or next door. The place positively bristled with seductions, rapes, drug addicts, lesbians and homosexuals, and of course drunkards by the score. You’d be hearing of murder, next!

- Mrs Barker

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
75% complete now...

The story has just looped back to the start. Thelma has just finished the deed that is, for now at least, her little secret, though (in common with Mr Bowling) part of her hopes to be caught.

I can't wait to discover how this all plays out now

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
The judgmental Barkers, especially Ambrosine, really help to give a different perspective on Thelma and Adrian

I’m at 90% now, and gripped 🤠

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod

Here’s my review


I loved it. Another noir-tinged tale of a serial killer from Donald Henderson which subverts the murder mystery genre

The mood and atmosphere are really something special

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Breaking news....

Murderer at Large by Donald Henderson currently 99 pence at the UK Kindle store. Needless to say I've just snapped it up

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

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments Thank you for letting me know. I have in fact got A Voice Like Velvet, as it was the only other one I could find

Pamela (bibliohound) | 458 comments I thought this was even better than Mr Bowling in the way Henderson creates atmosphere and gets inside the mind of the main character. I loved the little details that combined to show how irritating Adrian was - the 'tall teeth', the controlled kindness (only given on his terms), all the professions he 'could have done'.

Like Mr Bowling, I did find the ending a bit disappointing. For me Henderson's weakness lies in not finishing off his stories with the same skill as he creates them, but overall I enjoyed this a lot.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Thanks Pamela

I heartily agree with your point about atmosphere

And those "tall teeth"! I've never heard the term before but they sound horrendous. Something like piano keys.

Yes, that's a good point about the endings in this and Bowling - they were both a little anticlimactic.

Then again, in a sense the endings are built into the stories and so the point might be more about how we get there, than how they are going to end?

What do you think?

Pamela (bibliohound) | 458 comments Nigeyb wrote: "...the point might be more about how we get there, than how they are going to end? What do you think?

Yes, maybe, I can definitely see the focus on how the murderer is 'made' and what is going on in their minds, and that's certainly the part that stuck with me. I think I just felt disappointed that a writer who could come up with something that felt daring and surprising for 80% didn't carry that all the way through to the end.

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

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments I do so agree with you Pamela. It's as if he gets to a point, and thinks, now let's wrap it up with a happy ever after.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Thanks Jill - did you think it was a happy ever after ending?

(view spoiler)

message 25: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments To me, both Mr Bowling and Thelma had found someone they thought loved them and that was what both had wanted.

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
That's true.

And in Bowling, despite him feeling wretched, Miss Mason seemed to accept him, warts and all.

I thought it was more of a fantasy in Goodbye to Murder though, with the action stopping immediately before a literal and metaphorical crash that completely ends everything.

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

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments But either way, she still died happy

Nigeyb | 8546 comments Mod
Yes. That's true.

In my mind I always think of a "happy ever after" ending being a feature of fairy tales where the characters go on to live long and happy lives.

I'm not sure that applies in either of these books.

But they are somewhat ambiguous so perhaps there's other interpretations where that is indeed how it plays out for Bowling and for Thelma?

I'll be interested in what other people reading the book conclude.

Either way I'm very happy to have discovered this author and plan to read his other two books as well

message 29: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 547 comments Yes I will certainly read on.

Susan | 9065 comments Mod
Well, I am skipping some of the comments - sorry - as I am not sure where everyone is. Have been very busy and had no reading time over the last couple of days, but have come back to this now and am really enjoying it. I am at the part where Thelma and Adrian have married. Without meaning to give spoilers, it is obvious that something is very wrong.

I am enjoying this very much so far.

Susan | 9065 comments Mod
I have finished this now. Of the three books I have read by Donald Henderson, this is the first I have read with a female main character. I was not so keen on the ending - ambiguous indeed and, like Nigeyb, I didn't feel it was a happy one. I have read his spoiler and think that was a more likely ending.

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