Mystery in White is part of a series of classic British crime novels being republished by the British Library (and I have bought several of them in physical or electronic formats). A group of people who don’t know each other (apart from David & Lydia who are brother and sister) are sharing a compartment on a train which has become stranded in heavy snowfall. It’s Christmas Eve and they decide to head cross-country to another station to see if they can continue their journeys. But the weather closes in and they take refuge in a house which seems deserted, despite fires burning away and the table set for tea. Where is everyone? What’s happened?
Why did I want to read it?
I can’t resist a decent classic crime mystery, and the Christmas setting for this made it ideal for a Christmas Day read.
What did I think of it?
This is great stuff. It’s one of those mysteries that really draws you in. The main group of characters – David & Lydia, Thomson the clerk, Jessie the showgirl, Hopkins the elderly bore and Maltby the psychic investigator – are (mostly) likeable and certainly an interesting bunch. The unfolding of the crime is ingenious. Or should I say crimes because it becomes clear there is more than one and not all of them happened recently. There is a potentially supernatural element but that could be explained in a completely scientific way and adds lots of atmosphere to what is already a pretty edgy story.
Think about it.
You’re in a strange house with a group of people you don’t know and a criminal on the loose. You’re not exactly sure what the crime is and you aren’t certain who the bad guy is and it’s getting dark and the weather is closing in and you can’t call for help. Very creepy.
I loved this and read it in one sitting. It would make a fantastic TV film so I hope its unexpected success brings it to the attention of the right people to make that happen, because you can never have too many bright and snappy and clever murder mysteries set in the 1930s for my liking, and I would watch this in a heartbeat. If this is typical of the standard of these reprints then I’m really going to enjoy the others I’ve bought. Recommended.