The Red House Mystery

I love A. A. Milne. I was raised on Winnie-the-Pooh, and Mr. Milne’s phrases are part of the basic fabric of our family. We still occasionally say things like, “I’m not very how…” or “Silly old bear…” and things like that.

I didn’t know he wrote a mystery, especially one that became very popular when it was published in 1922. I came across the book by accident, and after reading the dedication in the front, I decided I wanted to read this book for Carl V’s R.I.P., II Challenge.

John Vine Milne,
My Dear Father,
Like all really nice people, you have a weakness for detective stories and feel that there are not enough of them. So, after all that you have done for me, the least that I can do for you is to write you one. Here it is: with more gratitude and affection than I can well put down here.
A. A. M. 

It was a slow read for me, due to my hectic schedule of late, and that made it more difficult to keep track of the somewhat tricky plot. The story was set in an English country manor, and one brother is killed when the second brother returns from self-imposed exile in Australia. It is assumed that he killed his brother during an argument when he returned home. The local police are completely inept, so it falls to an amateur sleuth, a gentleman named Antony Gillingham (who just happened to arrive at the moment of need) and his friend, Bill, to sort through all the clues and unravel the mystery. There are some interesting plot twists, but it’s a light-weight and fun mystery. It was interesting that the author would occasionally stop the narrative and talk directly to the reader about a character. And I chuckled out loud at one point when Gillingham referred to his sidekick as “Silly old ass.” It reminded me that I was indeed reading A. A. Milne.

7 thoughts on “The Red House Mystery

  1. Nymeth

    You’re making me want to read A.A. Milne, which is something that, shamefully enough, I have never done. Next year I was thinking of revisiting some favourite children’s classics as well as getting acquainted with some I missed as a child. I will definitely add Winnie-the-Pooh to the list.


  2. Bellezza

    I LOVE A.A. Milne, too! In fact, a.) we always say, “Time for a little smackerel of something” b.) my education blog is a quote from Eeyore (“To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks”) and c.) in college, there was a special club called the Shifters which only initiated members each year who most resembled a Pooh character. My husband was Rabbit.

    Anyway, all this to say, I never knew he wrote a mystery either! Thanks for sharing!


  3. jenclair

    Thanks for making me aware of this unexpected treasure. A.A. Milne has always been a favorite, one of the authors I most enjoyed reading to my own children, so discovering that he also wrote a mystery is a real treat!


  4. Nan -

    Now I know why I keep a print book journal. I was all set to write you and say how I loved this book. That’s my memory of it. But I thought I’d go looking through my journals to see what I had written. I read it 6 years ago this very month, and I gave it a B-/C+ (back when I was grading). I wrote that the mystery was “quite pleasant and warm hearted” but then went on to say that I “didn’t find it wonderful” and that it was ok, and fine, but… I thought that maybe if Milne had developed a series with Antony and Bill and they had grown as characters, I may have looked at this book as an introduction and continued on. I thought it “bland like some modern mysteries.” I think I read it because I had read somewhere that P.G. Wodehouse (my personal favorite writer) had read it. I did think it very funny the way Antony kept saying things like, “There we are, Bill.” Yet, after reading those years ago words of mine, and yours today, I am inclined to read it again. Thanks, Robin.


  5. Robin

    Nymeth, you’d enjoy Milne’s children’s books–both stories and poems. I love revisiting my favorite children’s classics. That’s a lovely project to look forward to.

    Bellezza, somehow those phrases are just perfect for certain things, and nobody has said them better! Also, I’d forgotten that you called your teaching blog “Just Three Sticks.” Perfect!

    Jenclair, I was so surprised to find out that he’d written a mystery. It was very popular in the 1920’s, but it wasn’t great. And it wasn’t nearly as much fun as his Winnie-the-Pooh books or his poetry.

    Nan, I agree with your old notes. It wasn’t great, but it was fun to see his attempt at the genre. “Quite pleasant and warm hearted” describes it perfectly, but I would much prefer to read his Winnie-the-Pooh books and his poetry.



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