And Death Came Too

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

This is only my second Richard Hull book but I already adore his wry writing style. This one is a classic, old fashioned whodunnit, a slow burner as is fairly typical for a murder mystery written in the 30s. I love all the detail that goes into describing the venue, everyone’s evening attire, drinks and food, and the financial and emotional backgrounds of all the characters. The plot itself did not come as a huge surprise, but with this one it’s very much the journey that is enjoyable. 
Perfect for anyone who wants a bit of cosy old-fashioned escapism.
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And Death Came Too is a reformatting and re-release of a 1939 mystery by Richard Hull. Published 17th Jan 2019 by Agora books, it's 221 pages and available in ebook format. Other editions are available in other formats.

This is a classic golden age interwar British mystery from a somewhat lesser known author. I reviewed another of his mysteries, Excellent Intentions , on my blog earlier. The author was certainly not afraid of testing alternative narrative styles and plot devices. This book starts in the literal middle of a conversation at a dance and the beginning is so jarring that I wondered if my eARC was missing some pages or an introduction. The ending is also very steep and, for me, abrupt. That being said however, it is well written (if a product of its time period). The characters are mostly just sketched in, and the strongest facets of the mystery are the pacing and dramatic tension. Hull was very adept at the 'show, don't tell' school of writing and I spent probably 80% of the book with a very wobbly and uncertain feeling of near-dread.

The intro and denouement were the weakest parts of the mystery. The plotting is intricate and the pacing is methodical (but I never found it plodding, it's not dull, it's deliberate). I did hope that my guess about 'whodunit' wasn't spot on, but I was disappointed. I would submit that it could seem a bit predictable simply because modern readers are viewing it through the lens of history and so many authors have adopted the plot device since the 1930s that it's become a lot more mainstream.

Agora seem to be engaged in the worthwhile goal of reintroducing these out of print golden age authors to a new, and hopefully appreciative, audience. Possibly worth noting for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this and some other Hull mysteries are included in the KU subscription library.

I enjoyed it, and I appreciate the publisher for making these long out of print classics available again.

Four stars.
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Irreverence, ingenuity and observation are the order of the day with Richard Hull- and ‘And Death Came Too’ is no exception. The usual trope is firmly present: a gathering of friends assemble at a country pile, where they find odd personalities (Mr Salter and a nameless woman whom share a high level of peculiarity) and where they are confronted by a policeman whom puts them all on the spot.

Hull’s evident skill in taking such a trope and making it his own is ever present. His keen eye for character and his observational precision are to be found in spades; it may not be the most satisfying of his novels but ‘And Death Came Too’ is worthy of being appreciated by a 21st century audience.
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Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

I just couldn't get into this one. I think it had a lot to do with the writing style, which wasn't bad, just not for me. The book was kind of slow and seemed to drag - it took a bit to get into the murder mystery aspect.  That wouldn't have bothered me if that time was spent getting a feel for the characters but I also feel like that didn't happen either? I didn't care for anyone in this book or the story so it just fell a little flat. 

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Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books for this ARC.

The start is slow and confusing but it does pick up half way through and ends a s a very good country house murder mystery with a twist.  I will definitely be reading the authors other books.
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Richard Hull’s The Murder of My Aunt was one of my favourite books read in 2018; I loved the humour, the narrative voice and the clever plot twists and couldn’t wait to read more of the author’s classic crime novels. The one I chose next was And Death Came Too, which has recently been reissued by Agora Books.

First published in 1939, the novel gets off to a very intriguing start, introducing us to four friends who are attending a series of charity balls at Trevenant Hall when they receive an invitation from a neighbour, Arthur Yeldham, who has recently moved into nearby Y Bryn House. The four – Martin Hands and his sister Patricia; Patricia’s fiancé Gerald Lansley; and a friend, Barbara Carmichael – don’t really want to go, but reluctantly accept and set off together for Y Bryn.

On their arrival, they are surprised to find that there is no sign of their host. Instead, there are two strangers sitting at the table: a man playing a game of solitaire who says his name is Mr Salter, and a mysterious woman whose name nobody knows. As you can imagine, the conversation is extremely awkward, especially when the unknown woman suddenly stands up and leaves with no explanation. Next, a police constable enters the room and helps himself to a drink before announcing that there has been a murder: Arthur Yeldham has been found dead in his study but no weapon has been found and the time of death is unclear. With at least six suspects to choose from – and a range of clues which could point the way to the truth or be complete red herrings – it’s not going to be an easy mystery to solve.

At this point I was anticipating another unusual and original novel like The Murder of My Aunt, but apart from the fascinating opening scenes this was a much more conventional detective story. I still enjoyed following the investigations and sorting through the clues, but in the second half of the novel it became quite obvious who the murderer was and I wasn’t at all surprised when the truth was revealed. The ending was very abrupt as well; the story just seemed to end in the middle of a conversation!

The main characters in the novel – the four friends and the two strangers they encounter at Yeldham’s house – have interesting backgrounds and motives, although none of the six are very likeable. We don’t see any of them getting very involved in amateur investigations – all of that is left to the police, and one element of the book which I did find slightly unusual is that we meet so many different policemen! There are several of them, some local and some from Scotland Yard, of different positions and ranks, all working on separate aspects of the crime. The competition and rivalry between them added another layer of interest to the novel, although on the other hand I think I prefer having just one or two detectives to follow and get to know.

This is a perfectly good, solid murder mystery novel, but I was slightly disappointed with it because, based on my previous experience of Richard Hull, I had hoped for something more imaginative. I will probably still try one or two more of his books. I like the sound of The Ghost It Was and Keep It Quiet, also from Agora Books.
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Well. This was a bummer. I was hoping for a smart and interesting murder mystery. I just didn't like how this was written sadly. We had many characters and Hull doesn't develop them enough for you to care. The book also ended on a weird note before pushing me to another book that he wrote. I have no interest of that one at all.

"And Death Came Too" follows a group of people (Gerald Lansely, Martin Hands, and Patricia Hands (sister to Martin and fiancee to Gerald) who decide to take up an offer made by Arthur Yeldman to visit his hoe called Y Bryn. No that's not a typo. Yes I re-read that many times wondering what the heck.

Off they go and once arriving meet someone named Mr. Salter and a mysterious woman (of course) and then we just have people talking amongst themselves. Eventually we have a murder (thank goodness).Arthur Yeldham is found murdered and no weapon has been found. So of course Hull has a lot of clues here and there left as the investigation heats up for you to try and figure out who done it.

I can't say much about all of the characters. Hull doesn't spend much time with any of them for you to care much. I think it doesn't help that when you start this book, you start mid-conversation among everyone and you have no idea who the heck anyone is and it feels muddled. 

I kept hoping for someone to emerge as my Poirot or Marple and no dice unfortunately. We get Detective Sergeant Scoresby who I wasn't feeling at all while I read this. We spent most of our time with the police and it's pretty evident that there are fractures building among the characters. I started to compare this a bit to Marple's Inspector Battle book, "Towards Zero" since there are some very light similarities here and there. 

Also, not going to lie, it's pretty obvious who did it in this one. I at least want to be tricked you know? 

I compared the writing to Christie and found it lacking overall. Christie is able to breathe life into mostly everyone (not counting some of her later works like The Third Girl) and you feel like smacking yourself upside the head when you get to the ending and Poirot and Marple reveal who did it and why.  

The ending was so weird. Seriously. One character is talking, another breaks in (bitterly) and character one yells out that they are being left with nothing, not even their respect and that's it. I kept reading for another chapter. No dice.
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Hull's writing feels very much of its time and I can easily imagine Agatha Christie fans enjoying getting their teeth into And Death Came Too. I loved the first chapters which set up a quirky scenario peopled with some refreshingly odd characters. Unfortunately this style isn't maintained and the narrative settles down into a more traditional crime story.

Hull keeps up a good pace throughout and I appreciated his diversions into genuine clues and clever red herrings. The settings are good too, but I wasn't overly enamoured with any of the characters. The central quartet of louche young things mostly irritated me and I would have preferred to have spent more time with the bickering policemen! And Death Came Too is set at a time when forensic investigation methods are new to this provincial town. Two police officers have been trained in the modern art of Fingerprinting and take their new skills very seriously!

Although I enjoyed the read, this novel wasn't ideal for me because I wanted more depth to the characters and greater exploration of their motives and actions. I did guess the murderer, but then talked myself out of my conclusion so I probably can't make any claims about having solved this whodunnit before it was revealed.
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The British Golden Age of mystery novels was an explosion of innovation that used popular literature to examine people and society in entirely new ways. Its best works are among the finest novels ever written, but the genre had its often-parodied flaws. This book has most of those flaws, and none of the Golden Age virtues.

Richard Sampson, who wrote under the name "Richard Hull," was a second-tier Golden Age author. He was at his best with humorous, off-kilter stories in which he tried to fool the reader into making unwarranted assumptions, often with clever wordplay. This book is instead a classic puzzle mystery, in which the author plants obvious clues which the reader is supposed to use to identify the murderer by logic alone--psychology, plausibility, reasonability are irrelevant; only objective details like who was left-handed or whether the moon was full on Valentine's Day.

I'm not much of a fan of puzzle mysteries even when written by masters, and the mediocre ones like this are very hard going. In the first few pages, four friends in casual conversation mention the odometer reading of their car and from which rooms in a house they are visiting someone might hear their car approach. This makes for painful dialog, and the reader feels like writing down the fact because he knows these are going to be logical pieces of the solution.

That conversation is followed by a page describing the floorplan of the house, before the reader has any reason to care. But, of course, later the reader needs to know this to figure out the complex comings and goings of the characters around the murder time. Another key clue is which pages of a law book have butter stains. The plot relies on extraordinary coincidences.  I find all of this more like work than recreational reading.

The set of suspects is duly trotted out and, of course, each one has a motive, and each one has does some hard-to-explain things. In a good puzzle mystery, the false motives upon consideration evaporate, and the true motive is unexpected; and the solution explains all of the hard-to-explain actions. But most, like this one, don't bother with that. The author picks one of the motives at random, and all the irrational things done by other characters are forgotten.

Another feature of bad puzzle mysteries is the set of motives is complex and overdramatic, with no overlap. We have some murky doings 22 years prior in World War I, two unrelated implausible wills, a senseless contract, four minor technical legal points and so on. Characters lie to each other and to the police for no reasons, and are painted too superficially for the reader to have any idea what they might or might not have done.

The best parts of this book are the eccentric minor characters and some physical comedy as the author has his characters run around under different false impressions and just miss seeing each other. But the slapstick is not enough to carry a novel.

I don't recommend this book except to diehard fans of Golden Age mysteries who are anxious to sample its failures as well as its successes. This is not a terrible book, it's a forgettable one whose flaws are obvious today, but at the time they would have been too familiar to notice.
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This is a very clever murder mystery with lots of complications and clever twists.

Gerald Lansley, his fiance Patricia Hands, her brother Martin Hands, and their friend Barbara are at a dance and Mr. Yeldham had invited them to come to his home, Y Bryn, as they were the only four invited who hadn't gone yet.  They finally decide to go.  When they get there, the door is open and when they go in they see Salter, and a young woman who doesn't seem to have anything to say.  A policeman comes into the room and tells them Mr. Yeldham is dead in the study.  Then the unknown woman walks out.  This is the first case for Detective Scoresby, who has several suspects. 

The unidentified woman is found to be Maud Westbury, who was found from the license on the car someone had seen parked near Y Bryn.   Salter was suspect because he took over Yeldham's house at the nearby school Finchingfield and owed Yeldham money for the house; Martin was suspect because his father was killed in the war from a mistake of Yeldham's father;  and Maud had walked out.  It later turns out the Maud had been married to one of the suspects (it wasn't clear which one), and she tries to blackmail her husband, and is murdered.

Scoresby finally gathers all the players at Y Bryn, and it's still unclear who the murderer is until the very end.
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Just about everything in this book is a mystery. For a while, we don’t know who the characters are, what their grievances are, or even what has happened if anything has. There is just a terrible sense of foreboding. Then comes the slow sorting of contradictory clues, alibies, and motives. Finally, a melodramatic accusation catches the murderer in his own cleverness. 
  I enjoyed this mystery, but it wasn’t the best of Hull’s writing. I had a hard time sorting out all the characters, especially, in the first chapter. It opens with several people discussing an invitation and their various reasons for not wanting to accept. It wasn’t till sometime in the next chapter that I figured out what their relationship to each other was. Then several times throughout the story I had trouble following what was going on, partially because the reader is kept in the dark by everyone, and because there were so many layers of mystery. Of course, as we get to the end of the book most of that stops and we finally have a sense of knowing what has happened and is going to happen. 
  There were a couple of curse words throughout the book. Other than those it was a very clean book. 
  I received this as a free ARC through NetGalley and Agora books. No favorable review was required. It was my pleasure to provide my honest review.
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Gerald Lansley, his fiancée Patricia, her brother Martin and Patricia’s friend Barbara have an invite to Y Bryn, the home of one Arthur Yeldham. With nothing better to do, they arrive to find two other guests, Mr Salter and a nameless woman and no host. As things become more awkward, the local constable arrives and then… you’ve guess it, Yeldham’s body is discovered.
As tensions rise between the foursome as they come under suspicion and motives begin to reveal themselves, will the various investigating police officers be able to pin down the killer?
The Murder Of My Aunt is not a conventional mystery. Nor is Murder Isn’t Easy. Nor is Keep It Quiet. And it’s not without good reason that those are the three best books by Hull that I’ve read. With The Ghost It Was, Hull seemed to be channelling John Dickson Carr, and it was a difficult marriage of styles. Now in this, the seventh book, he seems to have decided to attempt a conventional whodunit.
There’s another difference with those three aforementioned titles. Long periods of the narrative are from a single point of view and Hull gets the chance to build up character. Character is definitely his strength, and with a small cast he can do very well. With a larger cast and a more frequent change of point of view, it has the effect of never really settling the narrative down.
Let’s be clear, this is a perfectly fine mystery. The killer becomes a bit obvious as the finale approaches, but there’s a nice central idea in the execution of the crime. The character work is good, but as I said, it would have benefited by fewer points of view.
It’s really good that another long lost author is getting the exposure that he deserves, and while this isn’t his best work – let’s face it, Murder Isn’t Easy is one of the finest mystery novels I’ve ever read – there’s still plenty of interest here.
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I do like the cover of this book. It seems to convey a pretty accurate impression about what we may find inside the book and it definitely indicates the tone of all the people and the investigation (there is a dead body, so there has to be an investigation)

I preface the brief summarizing of the tale with the fact that this is not for people who need a plot to sustain them, now moving on to that summary.The new owner of Y Bryn is dead. There were a few people around a dining table waiting for his arrival late at the night.They are there at his behest.

We have a rich pair of siblings, a fiance, a possible future fiancée, an older schoolmaster,a mystery woman and a very cocky policeman. This is a motley crew, some with stronger ties to the man than others and we are given an insight into their thoughts or at least we are allowed to think so. Then the revelation is made. The skeleton, (reasonably) untrained police staff of the village has to now take up a murder investigation. Things move painstakingly slowly but the description of the process and the subtly hilarious interactions between the lot made me feel very clever when I spotted them.The culprit is apprehended in the most normal of ways, and there is not much of a fight to get them to reveal all. This last part being the reason that you do not read this book for the resolution of the case but the process of getting there. Richard Hull's books remind me of the joy I felt at a time when I still read slowly and read only the few books a local library could provide me with. These being older English books, I am very familiar with this form of narration. Although not meant for everyone in this fast paced literary lifestyle, I highly recommend taking a detour down a simpler more intricately paved lane to visit with the people in the Richard Hull's world.
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A great cosy mystery set in the late 1930's.A  book in which it is like a puzzle where you need to solve the mystery from the clues you have. 8 suspects all with motive, means and opportunity now its just about whodunnit! I did guess who the murderer was and it felt that might be easy to do but I still enjoyed finding out whether I was right or not!
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This was a fun book that took a little time to get started—the reader and many of the characters are thrust almost immediately into the murder scene and it it’s lite difficult to figure out what is going on. Much of the book is written with tongue firmly in cheek. The ending is a little predictable
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I think Richard Hull was a genius and I'm happy that Agora Books is publishing is books again.
This one was great, full of humour and with an unpredictable plot.
I look forward to reading the next book book by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Agora Books and Netgalley for this ARC
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"And Death Came Too" represents something a bit less out-of-the-ordinary from Richard Hull, most of whose mystery stories were more along the lines of 'biter-bit' comedies in which mildly unpleasant schemers get in over their heads. In this book, we simply have a murdered man and the question of who killed him.

The four young people who first arrive at the house of the dead man are much less prominent than a summary would lead you to believe, although they appear more towards the end of the book. The most important characters are the local police, who struggle to get through the investigation without having to make a humiliating appeal to Scotland Yard just after establishing their own investigative branch. The police are also the most likeable characters. I think it's actually rather typical of Hull's style — his characters are rarely flat or one-note, but it's extremely uncommon for him to particularly approve of any of them, so his books often seem a little archly superior to everybody in them. The flawed but on-the-job investigators of crime, therefore, tend to come off best.

The solution of the crime is plausible, and the investigation largely makes sense, although Hull undercuts himself by having the murderer actually show up, unnamed, and have a long conversation with the second victim shortly before killing her. At that point, there's really only one man in the book who the murderer can be, so the suspense is a little undercut. On the whole, however, I found the book enjoyable.
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Hugely enjoyable Golden Age mystery from the pen of the very talented Richard Hull. Credible characterisation, red herrings, witty retorts, clever and intelligent plotting - a classic mystery - whodunnit, why and how? A joy to read from start to finish. Vintage crime aficionados will not be disappointed.
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I have loved reading the Richard Hull books published by Agora over the last year or so. I am delighted that they’re making these old books (from Hull and so many other authors) from the 1930s-1970s available in an affordable e-book format.

However…. I can’t say I enjoyed this book from 1939. None of the characters get one’s sympathy. The narrative voice is also curious. Although it’s a standard author’s narration with all characters in the third person, i.e. “She said”, “He did”, etc., we are never shown any of the suspects alone. That means we have no privy knowledge about any of them and whether they committed a murder. In a tale narrated in the first-person, i.e. “I saw”, “I did”, etc. that constrained view is understandable – we can only be shown what the narrator saw – but when the tale is narrated by the omniscient author, it is curious.

I guess the reason is due to the other quirk of the book.  Hull ensures we have nothing in the narrative that gives away the murderer. For example, Maud Westbury goes to meet someone and the narrative states “The man and the woman made their way…”. In passages like that, he tortures the wording to ensure we get no clue about the other party.

Hull’s books normally sparkle and have laugh-out-loud moments.  He gives one of the characters, Salter, witty retorts when questioned by the police. Unfortunately, it simply makes him appear obstructive and self-centred. I was astonished that he wasn’t put in the cells on a charge of obstructing the police.  Similarly, Constable Reeves tries to be clever but is plain irritating and should have had a written warning for his behaviour. As for Sergeant Evans going poaching – surely, that’s highly unlikely?

I’d definitely buy the book again if I lost this copy, despite my criticism above. Richard Hull’s books are gems and worth grabbing if you find one. But, compared to the others that I’ve read so far, it’s a tad disappointing.

#AndDeathCameToo #NetGalley
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Good story with lots of red herrings and rather complicated in the telling. It is a typical book of the times by Richard Hull. 
Anyone who likes book from the golden era of crime should find this book entertaining.
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