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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

Gilbert Adair

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | review and reception notes | links | about the author

To purchase The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

Title: The Act of Roger Murgatroyd
Author: Gilbert Adair
Genre: Novel
Written: 2006
Length: 304 pages
Availability: The Act of Roger Murgatroyd - US
The Act of Roger Murgatroyd - UK
The Act of Roger Murgatroyd - Canada
Mord auf ffolkes Manor - Deutschland

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Haven't gotten our hands on a copy yet

Chances that we will review it:

Very good

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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Telegraph . 31/10/2006 Jane Shilling
Financial Times . 11/11/2006 James Urquhart
Financial Times . 28/7/2007 Julia Taylor
FAZ . 22/9/2006 Martin Halter
The Guardian F 4/11/2006 Michael Dibdin
The Independent B- 17/11/2006 Andrew Taylor
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 25/1/2007 Thomas Hermann
The Spectator . 7/10/2006 P.D.James
Sunday Telegraph . 29/10/2006 Toby Clements
Sunday Times . 29/10/2006 Hugo Barnacle
Sunday Times . 5/8/2007 Nick Rennison
The Times . 11/11/2006 Marcel Berlin
TLS . 27/10/2006 Matthew Dennison
Die Welt . 22/7/2006 Ulrich Baron
Welt am Sonntag . 23/7/2006 Andreas Schäfer
Die Zeit . 10/8/2006 Ulrich Greiner

  Review Consensus:

  No consensus, but most think it is quite clever fun

  From the Reviews:
  • "Armchair literary detectives will note that Adair's grasp of the minutiae of women's clothing falls notably short of his admired original's excellence in those areas. Nevertheless, admirers of Christie have much for which to thank him, while admirers of Adair who think they loathe detective fiction may be pleasantly surprised." - Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph

  • "The Act of Roger Murgatroyd is an intelligent caper around the timeworn scenario of the 1930s English country house murder mystery. (…) There is a stagey feel to Adair's whodunit (…..) Adair has produced a witty piece of fun - unserious but well written, with a gentle undercurrent of literary game-playing." - James Urquhart, Financial Times

  • "This witty pastiche parodies the era of Agatha Christie" - Julia Taylor, Financial Times

  • "Mord auf ffolkes Manor ist perfekt und kompliziert, ein Pasticcio nach Art Agatha Christies und zugleich ein vertracktes Literaturrätsel. Gilbert Adair ist nicht umsonst ein Postmoderner der unterhaltsameren Sorte: Der Tod des Autors ist bei ihm der Anfang detektivischer Lust. (…) Derlei Übungen verrutschen leicht ins Gemachte, in virtuose Mimikry oder unterkühlte Experimente. Hier kommt der Liebhaber postmoderner Dekonstruktionen wie der naive Leser altmodischer Konstruktionen auf seine Kosten." - Martin Halter, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "There's precious little pleasure on offer here, only a parade of the usual suspects washing their dirty linen in public to establish a motive for their having committed a crime which is never investigated. Faking an orgasm may be a kindness. Faking it while indulging in the solitary vice is simply sad." - Michael Dibdin, The Guardian

  • "The story is thick with in-jokes. (…) Unfortunately, it entertains only some of the time, perhaps because this type of parody works best as a sprint and is difficult to sustain over the marathon of full-length novel. The book flatters the reader's intelligence at first but the pastiche of 1930s prose is oddly uneven, and the narrative has too many knowing winks for its own good. Adair gives us some excellent jokes but, in the end, his paradoxical achievement is to make us appreciate the solid literary virtues of Agatha Christie." - Andrew Taylor, The Independent

  • "Adair has taken trouble with his research. (…) And if Adair occasionally misses the authentic voice, we must remember that the murder-fabricating ladies of the Thirties had an advantage: they believed in what they were doing. (…) There are one or two incongruities, but they don’t detract from the entertainment." - P.D.James, The Spectator

  • "I cannot recall Christie holding her below-stairs staff up to such base ridicule, but Adair's point is well made and here, as elsewhere, the novel is full or references to the conventions of the genre, some of which were beyond me, but others of which made me smile (…..) For fans of the genre there is much to enjoy, and even if Adair imports a jarring and anachronistic sloppiness to the dialogue (…) he has done brilliantly in making what is to all intents a parody into something the reader genuinely cares about; not an easy thing to do." - Toby Clements, Sunday Telegraph

  • "(M)ainly Adair treats the genre with a proper intellectual respect and turns in a good period detective story that also comments on the novel as a form. Quite why he did it, though, is anybody’s guess." - Hugo Barnacle, Sunday Times

  • "Parody seldom works at book length, but Adair’s affectionate pastiche of the classic crime fiction that was practised by the likes of Agatha Christie sustains our interest by providing a mystery as intriguing as those in the best of the stories he is spoofing." - Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

  • "A delightful entertainment." - Marcel Berlin, The Times

  • "Gilbert Adair's new novel operates on several levels. It is a classic whodunit, with a period country-house setting, a cast of equally suspect suspects, not one but two apparently unfathomable murders, and an ingenious solution, the very ingenuity of which overrides the reader's feeling that it is all extremely improbable. It is also a parody -- as its title suggests -- of Christie's novels, in which the veracity and plausibility of individual elements are sublimated to the writer's need to outwit her reader. The characters are drawn from a small pool of types; their speech is brittle and shallow; description is generic and minimal; but the writing, with few attempts at meaningful insight, is sufficiently fast-paced to capture the reader's attention and advance the plot." - Matthew Dennison, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Mit Mord auf ffolkes Manor hat Gilbert Adair eine hintersinnige Hommage an die Oldtimer des Kriminalromans geschrieben. Der Reiz dieses Revivals liegt gerade darin, daß man nicht nur deren Mechanik sieht, sondern ihr auch beim bisweilen scheppernden Funktionieren zuhören kann." - Ulrich Baron, Die Welt

  • "Das Lächeln, mit dem Adair den Leser durch dieses nach Zigarren und altem Leder duftende Spiegelkabinett geleitet, führt zwar zu manch langatmigem Dialog, aber auch zu einem recht unerwarteten Ende." - Andreas Schäfer, Welt am Sonntag

  • "Adair ist ein solcher Virtuose an der Bar, und weil man dort in der Regel nicht genau hinhört, kann einem leicht entgehen, welche Kunst es ist, Vorhandenes, Überliefertes in ein neues Muster zu fügen. Die Tatsache, dass sich Literatur fast immer auch auf Literatur bezieht, ist für Gilbert Adair die Quelle einer unerschöpflichen Lust am Spiel mit parodistischen Verweisen, ironischen Überblendungen." - Ulrich Greiner, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Notes about the Reviews
and the Book's Reception

       This pastiche/parody/homage (mainly of and to Agatha Christie) got a lot of attention -- and reviews from some very good mystery-practitioners (P.D.James, Michael Dibdin, Andrew Taylor). Most thought it fairly clever, even as they found smaller faults, though not everyone seemed to have a clue as to what he was after -- and Dibdin seemed positively offended.

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The Act of Roger Murgatroyd: Reviews: Gilbert Adair Other books by Gilbert Adair under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Gilbert Adair has written several novels, as well as several works of non-fiction. He also translated Georges Perec's A Void, for which he won the Scott Moncrieff Prize.

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© 2007-2009 the complete review

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