Murder at School By James Hilton

A detective novel by James Hilton.

Murder at School deals with the phenomenon of coincidence by posing the question of how likely it is that two brothers attending the same boarding school meet with two separate accidental deaths—and curious ones at that—within the same schoolyear. In the manner typical of the Golden Age whodunnit, the solution is only presented in the final pages of the novel. Throughout the book, an amateur sleuth and a Scotland Yard detective vie with each other to solve the riddle, with only one of them successful in the end. Murder at School


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This was not a well-constructed mystery at all. I usually don't try to solve mysteries while I read them. But in this case, the solution seemed glaringly obvious, if anything confirmed by the fact that the murderer was one of the only people nobody seemed to suspect, even though it was so glaringly obvious. However, this book was readable and humorous. In some ways I enjoyed it more than I expected to, given my memory of Goodbye Mr. Chips. **1/2 stars English I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the famous author's only foray into detection, written originally as Glen Trevor.

Hilton had obviously read E C Bentley's Trent's Last Case and The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley, as many of the elements of those famed, tongue-in-cheek books, are subtly guyed here.

It is also interesting that neither the gifted amateur nor the Scotland Yard professionals cover themselves in glory, since one gets it all wrong and the other nearly provokes a further crime.

This is not intended to be taken as seriously as some readers seem to do. It is a piece of fun and although the perpetrator is very obvious to readers of GAD fiction, the book is not to be dismissed for that reason.

Highly entertaining and recommendable. English Hilton channels Christie.

Having just plowed through two disappointing mysteries I reread this sinceRandom Harvest and Lost Horizon are favorites. Like some other British books, it takes a while to get the terminology about masters and Prefects and the school hierarchy, but the writing is great: There had been nearly a month without rain. and the parched fields and rusty roads seemed to stare hopefully at the clouds massing above them. On rereading I thought it was a little too long and the hero a little foolish; plus you can spot the culprit way before the unmasking. Still, the writing and evocation of a time and place makes it a worthwhile read.

P.S. This book was originally released in 1931 under the title Murder At School under a pen name of Glen Trevor. English James Hilton is now mostly forgotten author. Was it Murder? is his only detective story and a part of me isn't surprised. Although he wrote novels centered on mysteries all his life, most famous and beautiful one being his Himalayan masterpiece Lost Horizon, he also sentenced himself on a spiral of being so profilic that he turned out to be predictable. I knew the solution to the murder halfway through the book. But then again, detective stories are mostly about the setting. English high school as one was particularly refreshing. Stormy nights in the dorm, death lurking around the corner and a lousy wanna-be detective/poet surrounded by old fashioned teachers did the charm although the main twist didn't.

But that doesn't speak against Hilton's ability to tell an engaging story. That is, after all, what was most fun about this short novel - the main character not only doesn't solve the murders, he is a fool who falls for murderer's every trap until the proper Scotland Yard detective doesn't solve it for him. Maybe that's the twist that Hilton had in mind when he wrote this. Be it as it may, it remains a fact that it's always a good idea to read Hilton's prose. His sharp character descriptions, easy flowing and yet creative dialogues, some twists and turns and the vivid colorful atmosphere isn't absent in this one as well. It's not his best, but it is after all one of those enjoyable little books which, like majority of detective stories, are meant to be read rather than quoted. English It is a long time ago since I read this book but I recall it was one of very few books I could not put down once I started to read it. From the beginning I could identify with the protagonist and the mystery at the school grabbed my imagination. I felt as if the writer had written the story personally for me and that has happened with no other book ever. English

Colin Revell is an old boy of Oakington School and when an unexplained death takes place there, the headmaster Dr Rosaveare calls him in to investigate as Revell, who is a novelist, is also known as an amateur sleuth.

It is one of the students who has died, seemingly accidentally, that lead to the headmaster inviting Revell but after undertaking some investigations, and coming to no firm conclusions, he is dismissed as the headmaster decides that there is no mystery surrounding the death; it is deemed to be accidental.

However, when a second more suspicious death occurs the headmaster decides not to call in Revell but the latter takes it upon himself to return to Oakington as he is indeed suspicious about the death. Eventually Detective Inspector Guthrie is called in from Scotland Yard and while he takes the the lead in the investigation, Revell continues his own enquires in the background. Despite there being plenty of subterfuge going on nothing definitive comes out of the investigations and therefore Guthrie returns to Scotland Yard, with the case left seemingly unsolved, and Revell decides to go back to London.

But the headmaster persuades Revell to remain for the remaining few weeks of the term and act as his personal secretary and this gives Revell chance to investigate further. At one point he feels that he has worked out what has happened but then another death occurs and throws the whole episode into utter confusion. While this is going on there is an interlude of love interest as Revell discovers that he has an attraction to one of the master's wives and the pair of them become very friendly, a fact that upsets the master greatly and which later has significant implications.

After much more intrigue, and an attempt on Revell's life, the mysteries are solved and in a rather surprising turn of events Guthrie returns to take the credit, something that is not particularly appreciated by Revell, who later returns to London to write up his experiences both in prose and verse.

'Murder At School' is James Hilton at his best with the schoolmaster characters somewhat reminiscent of similar characters in his equally excellent 'Goodbye Mr Chips'. English This was a frustrating whodunit. Having spent years with the wisdom of Sherlock Holmes and the grey cells of Poirot, the who dun it appeared so obvious to me right from the word go. As the book went on, Hilton appeared to be throwing one huge evidence after another to point to the actual culprit but our hero seems to go in all directions but the right one. Maybe that was Hilton's purpose- to show how dumb amateur detectives could be.

The setting was good - obviously, Hilton has a partiality for old-world British schools. But the characters were not well fleshed out which meant that unlike his books of drama like Random harvest and Goodbye Mr Chips, no character seemed to come to life. They remained caricatures within the book and forgotten once the book was finished. English A fairly good read — a mystery written the author, under the pen name of Glen Trevor, and before he would go on and write his more famous Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips: To You, Mr. Chips. Based in the academic world like Mr. Chips, Was It Murder begins with an alumnus, Colin Revell, returning his former public school in response to a query by the headmaster. There's been a death at the school and there is some concern that it may be more than an accident.

Revell spends some time there and gets the lay of the land but in the end, he agrees that the mystery is not really a mystery and truly a simple accident. But then the brother of the first victim turns up dead as well....

A very interesting, interesting read. I didn't find it that suspenseful but the characters are interesting and the read is fun. The backstory make it a must read. English An intriguing mystery by an author definitely NOT known for mysteries. The title is definitely indicative of the kind of story it is---was it murder? Suicide? Accident? An accident made to look like suicide, or a suicide made to look like murder, or a murder made to look like accident or a suicide? You run amuck in piles of suspects and wade through theories up to your armpits. The strong point is Mr. Hilton's characters, as in his other work. I had half-figured out the solution just by following the if they didn't talk about it as a possibility it's probably what happened rule of TV. Entertaining, but I didn't like the ending very much. 4 stars for characters and plot, 2 for the ending and 1 for the bad poetry sprinkled throughout. English There is a reason that many of Hilton's books have been made into movies. He writes a darn good story. Although this doesn't rank with Random Harvest and Lost Horizon, it is a good read that is delightfully British. English