Tag Archives: Mavis Doriel Haye

Murder Underground

murder undergroundby Mavis Doriel Haye

Over the past year or so I have read more crime novels than ever before, but so far they have been of the thriller style. “Murder Underground” is a very different kind of book. First published in 1934, Murder Underground is a very traditional murder mystery, very much the kind of book I have avoided for the past few years. I have nothing against these kind of stories, it’s just that I actually prefer watching the TV and film adaptations (there, I have admitted it!). 

“Murder Underground” is part of a series of long-lost books being re published by the British Library and is one of a couple my wife bought whilst we were on holiday last year. I wouldn’t normally have bothered reading it, but I can’t resist a “classic”, which is how this series is being promoted.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the book. The plot is a little weak, but the characters are endearing, particularly the bumbling Basil Pongleton, nephew of the murder victim, who is a little reminiscent of Bertie Wooster, but without the money.

Set on and around London’s Northern Line, the story focuses on several characters, most of whom are residents of the Frampton Hotel, a small boarding house close to Belsize Park Station, the scene of the dastardly deed. We never “meet” the victim, Miss Pongleton, as she is already dead as the book starts, but we do get insights into her character through the conversations of her fellow boarders and family. It seems she was not the easiest person to like, giving several people ample reason for wanting to bump her off.

“Murder Underground” is very much a book of its type and time. The pace is slow and the characters lack depth, but overall I found it a pleasant, though not particularly challenging read. Mavis Doreil Hay wrote just three crime novels and if I come across either of the other two I will defiantly give them a go.

If you enjoy classic 1930s detective stories, this would be right up your street. If you prefer your murders to be a little more grisly and complicated, then give this one a miss.

July 19, 2015