Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Murder at Sissingham Hall - Clara Benson

This author has occasionally come up in Kindle Daily Deals.  I had never heard of her and thought, for no particular reason, that she was a modern author writing of a different time period, the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

I can't find a Wikipedia entry for Clara Benson, but there is a web site ( for her and her books.  It says she was born in 1890, in England I assume, and wrote several mysteries as a hobby when she was a young woman but never attempted to published them.  After her death in 1965, her family found the books and is now publishing them.  There seem to be six, with a seventh on the way.  Based on word and phrase usage, some people think that Clara Benson is a contemporary writer.  Either way, I enjoyed The Murder at Sissingham Hall and plan to read others in the series.

Charles Knox has returned from eight years in South Africa.  His old friend Bobs Buckley (no, I did  not misspell 'Bobs'), heir to a vast fortune and member of one of England's oldest and most distinguished families, meets him at the pier.  Before he knows what's happening, Bobs and his sister Sylvia whisk Charles off to a house party at Sissingham Hall.  Sissingham is the home of Charles's ex-fiancee Rosamund and her wealthy, older husband, Sir Neville Strickland.  Charles is still in love with Rosamund.

Shortly after arriving, Sir Neville is found dead in his study.  It appears that he had been drinking and fell against the mantelpiece, striking his head and killing himself.  But appearances aren't always what they seem.  One of the other guests, Rosamund's cousin, Mrs. Angela Marchmont, notices  things that don't jibe with an accidental death.  The doctor has questions, too.

Soon there is a full scale investigation.  Everyone must stay at Sissingham while the detective is at work.  The guests do their own amateur investigating.  One of the guests who stood to inherit a tidy sum of money from Sir Neville is arrested.  His wife is then found almost dead from an overdose of sleeping medication.  Still, something doesn't feel right.

Mrs. Marchmont figures it all out and tells the detective her theory.  They're just in time to prevent another murder.

From the descriptions of the other books in the series, it appears that Mrs. Angela Marchmont is the recurring detective, solving mysteries she encounters as she travels around.  Charles Knox narrates the story and Mrs. Marchmont doesn't seem to be a fully developed character, peripheral for most of the book.  It will be interesting to see if she evolves as the series continues.


  1. Sounds like a good series. I've seen them on Amazon myself. Might have to give it a go then.

    1. I liked this one and, as I said, will read the next in the series. I think you might like them.

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