Friday’s Forgotten Book: Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville (1934)

I enjoyed Alan Melville’s Death of Anton so much that I was keen to read more of him and decided on this because I really need a weekend away from the nightmare that we are living right now.

Jim Henderson has been trying to survive in the Post WWI years. Without any stable job and the prospects of getting one gradually drying up, Jim is surprised when he receives an invitation from one Edwin Carson, the owner of a country-house called Thrackley. Henderson doesn’t remember being acquainted with Carson but the latter informs him that he was a friend of his father in South Africa. Since Jim has been reduced to counting his pennies, he is happy to accept the invitation and is delighted when he finds that his friend the Hon. Frederick Usher too is also one of the invitees.

The first conversation between the two friends is a delight –

“…The question is, can I get into your dress trousers?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Will I fit your evening clothes? You’re lending them to me, you see. For next weekend. I can’t possibly go and stay at a very superior country house in a navy blue serge suit that’s slightly shiny at all the obvious places. They’re bound to dress for dinner and observe all these quaint medieval customs. He’s even threatened fishing.”

“Sorry, old man. It’s impossible.”

“But, Freddie…”

“Impossible. Quite imposs.”

“Remember we were at school together.”

“Which merely shows a lack of discretion on the part of my parents, and has nothing whatever to do with the present question.*

This is P.G. Wodehouse territory and I wondered whether the Hon. Frederick Usher was based on my favourite recurriing Wodehouse character: The Hon. Frederick Threepwood, the second son of Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle.

The Wodehouse connect continued when the two friends reach Thrackley and continue with their banter. And that’s why it was such a shock when the first murder occurred. It was totally out of sync with the mood of the book and the book didn’t recover from it. Seriously though I love country-house murder mysteries, this was one book where I wish the author had not introduced murder in the agenda.

courtesy: wikipedia

*[In the conversation mentioned above b/w the two friends, there was a mention of Percy Fender who used to captain Surrey. This reference to the gentleman who was called Please-Go-Home Fender {his full name being P(ercy) G(eorge) H(erbert) Fender} by the Australians when he toured Australia as part of the English Cricket team and was a good friend of England’s toughest captain, Douglas Jardine, reminded me of the whole ‘Bodyline’ furore as also of Rich Westwood’s Crimes of the Century meme where we used to look for such temporal sign-posts]

*

First Line: The alarm clock at Mr. Henderson’s left ear gave a slight warning twitch and then went off with all its customary punctuality and power.

First Published: 1934

Other Opinions: ClassicMysteries; CrossexaminingCrime; DeadYesterday; FictionFan; TheIdleWoman; MyReader’sBlock; MysteriesAhoy!;

6 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville (1934)

  1. That’s a really interesting point you make, Neeru. Sometimes events in a story really aren’t in synch with the rest of the story, and that can be almost jarring. Still, I like a country house story, too, and I’m glad that element worked for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After reading your review, I’m not about to go out looking for a First Edition of this one, but given the availability of an inexpensive reprint, I may give it a try. Any connection with Wodehouse is OK with me. (Whether the mystery intrudes or not.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh do read it, Steve. The humour is really good and that’s why I found the murder so jarring. Wish it had just continued in the Woodehousian vein. I will wait for your views.

      Like

  3. Thanks for the link! I didn’t get on with this one, or the only other one of his I’ve read, Quick Curtain – credibility seems to be a problem in both plots! But I’ve heard a few people say how much they enjoyed Death of Anton, so I may give it a try sometime. I do like the Wodehousian banter…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love the escapism offered by both Anton and Weekend. It is nightmarish situation in India right now and I need such stuff to just forget. Quick Curtain I am keeping for later reading. Anton is hilarious in parts and I hope you enjoy it if you read it. A word of caution though: It too stretches credibility 😀 Pleasure to provide the link.

      Liked by 1 person

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