The Act of Roger Murgatroyd
|Publisher||Faber and Faber|
|LC Class||PR6051.D287 A65 2006|
|Followed by||A Mysterious Affair of Style|
The Act of Roger Murgatroyd: An Entertainment is a whodunit by Gilbert Adair first published in 2006. Set in the 1930s and written in the vein of an Agatha Christie novel, it has all the classic ingredients of a 1930s mystery and is, according to the author, "at one and the same time, a celebration, a parody and a critique not only of Agatha Christie but of the whole Golden Age of English whodunits", but also "a whodunit in its own right, so that those readers who were completely uninterested in literary games of the so-called postmodern type could nevertheless settle down comfortably with a good, gripping and intentionally old-fashioned thriller". The Act of Roger Murgatroyd is also a locked room mystery.
The title alludes to two of Agatha Christie's works: her breakthrough novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and a character (Amy Murgatroyd) from a later tale, A Murder is Announced. There are many more references to prominent crime writers and their works, including, tongue-in-cheek, an anachronistic allusion to critic Edmund Wilson's 1945 essay, "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?".
Colonel ffolkes and his wife Mary have invited a few house guests to spend the Christmas holidays at their remote country seat in Dartmoor. When the guests have already settled in nicely, three latecomers disturb the peace and quiet of the party. Selina ffolkes, the Colonel's 21-year-old daughter, arrives late on Christmas Day with two admirers in tow: Donald Duckworth, a young American art student; and Raymond Gentry, an ill-mannered gossip columnist who, uninvited and slightly drunk, soon gets on everyone's nerves. The whole action of the novel takes place on Boxing Day when, early in the morning, Gentry is found murdered in the attic. Snowed in and unable to call the police, the party decide to ask their neighbour, a retired Chief Inspector with Scotland Yard, for help. The latter agrees but finds a rival sleuth in Evadne Mount, one of the house guests and a celebrated author of whodunits in her own right. When the Chief Inspector starts his preliminary investigation of the crime, it soon turns out that each of the guests has a skeleton in the cupboard.
- The Evadne Mount trilogy (The Act of Roger Murgatroyd, A Mysterious Affair of Style, and And Then There Was No One)
- A list of Evadne Mount's novels and plays (at List of fictional books)