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Cover image for Family matters
Format:
Title:
Family matters
ISBN:
9781464207426
Edition:
First edition, First US trade paperback edition.
Publication:
Scottsdale, AZ : Poisoned Pen Press, 2017.
Physical Description:
237 pages ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Originally published in 1933.
Summary:
Robert Arthur Kewdingham is an eccentric failure of a man. In middle age he retreats into a private world, hunting for Roman artifacts and devoting himself to bizarre mystical beliefs. Robert's wife, Bertha, feels that there are few things more dreadful than a husband who will persist in making a fool of himself in public. Their marriage consists of horrible quarrels, futile arguments, incessant bickering. Scarcely any friends will visit the Kewdinghams in their peaceful hometown Shufflecester. Everything is wrong - and with the entrance of John Harrigall, a bohemian bachelor from London who catches Bertha's eye, they take a turn for the worse. Soon deep passions and resentments shatter the calm facade of the Kewdinghams' lives.
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MYSTERY Rolls, A.
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Summary

Summary

Mystery crime fiction written in the Golden Age of Murder

"A deliciously anti-cozy tale of murder most multiplied..." --Kirkus Reviews

Robert Arthur Kewdingham is an eccentric failure of a man. In middle age he retreats into a private world, hunting for Roman artifacts and devoting himself to bizarre mystical beliefs. Robert's wife, Bertha, feels that there are few things more dreadful than a husband who will persist in making a fool of himself in public. Their marriage consists of horrible quarrels, futile arguments, incessant bickering. Scarcely any friends will visit the Kewdinghams in their peaceful hometown Shufflecester.

Everything is wrong--and with the entrance of John Harrigall, a bohemian bachelor from London who catches Bertha's eye, they take a turn for the worse. Soon deep passions and resentments shatter the calm facade of the Kewdinghams' lives.

This richly characterised and elegantly written crime novel from 1933 is a true forgotten classic.


Author Notes

ANTHONY ROLLSwas a pseudonym of C.E. Vulliamy (1886-1971), a biographer, soldier and archaeologist of distinction who also wrote ten crime novels, four of which were published during the golden age of British detective fiction between the world wars.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans of golden-age cozies will be delighted by this engrossing mystery, first published in 1933, from Rolls (the pseudonym of C.E. Vulliamy). The opening sections of this British Library Crime Classics reissue portray the unsettled household of the Kewdingham family in the town of Shufflecester. Most of the stress stems from the family's eccentric and aggravating patriarch, Robert, who has found himself at loose ends after being let go from his position as an engineer after more than two decades. Instead of looking for new work, however, Robert has spent his time collecting junk and broadcasting his belief that he once lived in Atlantis. Concise but evocative word-pictures of the characters enhance the plot. For example, a doctor speaks with "a studied modulation, picking his words in a delicate though snappy fashion, like a smart little bird picking up grains on the tin floor of a cage." Although Rolls (Scarweather) takes his time building up to the murder, he rewards readers' patience with a clever and satisfying resolution. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A deliciously anti-cozy tale of murder most multiplied that's perhaps the choicest blast yet from the past almost-masters of mystery resurrected by Poisoned Pen's British Library Crime Classics.This 1933 novel by Rolls, the pseudonym of C.E. Vulliamy (1886-1971), is set in and around No. 6 Wellington Ave. in Shufflecester, a town on the banks of the River Shuff in Shuffleshire. As these place names and the characters' proper names indicate, the pace is languid, the manner arch. Robert Arthur Kewdingham, an engineer thrown out of his job by the Great Depression and left to pursue his important work with the xenophobic Rule Britannia League and indulge his fantasies that he's "a born collector" and that he was in an earlier life Athu-na-Shulah, High Priest of Atlantis, is clearly a man born to be murdered. Those at risk of rising to the challenge include his wife, Bertha, who longs to suffer no more from his querulous complaints and petty tyrannies; his cousin, novelist John Harrigall, who fancies himself more than a friend to Bertha; cooing Pamela Chaddlewick, who wants to hear all about Atlantis; and Dr. Wilson Bagge, who considers Kewdingham the perfect subject for his academic experiments with poison. Soon enough two different murderers have Kewdingham in their sights, and their combined efforts are a joy to behold. Sadly, Rolls' delightfully impudent narrative voice isn't matched by equally witty dialogue, and once Kewdingham succumbs to the fatal doses he's been fed, Rolls finds room for only one more climactic twist. Rolls, clearly writing with both dry eyes on Francis Iles' Malice Aforethought and Before the Fact, will remind fond readers with long memories of better-known landmarks by Henry Wade, Richard Hull, and Raymond Postgate. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* This deliciously sly murder mystery, first published in 1933, is an example of the inverted detective story in which we get to know the murderer before the crime is committed. In this case, there are two would-be murderers, one motivated by the hatred engendered by how her husband treats her, the other apparently motivated by sheer sociopathy. The hoped-for victim, Robert Arthur Kewdingham, is unappealing on every level. He ignores his family (wife and child) as they sink into genteel poverty, and he indulges himself in hypochondria, mysticism, bad temper, and what would now be described as hoarding (but he labels it collecting). His young wife starts adding lead acetate to his food. His doctor (whose elderly aunt and invalid wife both died suddenly) brews up an experimental blend of aluminum chlorate for his patient. Part of the chilling fun of this book is found in the author's stark assessments of his murderous characters. We don't come to sympathize with them by knowing their interior worlds; we watch their movements in shock from the outside. The other part of the fun is observing how the wife's and doctor's plans unwittingly counteract each other. A first-rate reissue from the British Library Crime Classics series, very much along the lines of two of Freeman Wills Crofts' inverted mysteries from the same series, The 12:30 from Croydon and Antidote to Venom.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2017 Booklist