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A Most Contagious Game

por Catherine Aird

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2549103,554 (3.96)37
When a London businessman retires early and buys a Tudor mansion, he's quite surprised-and perhaps even a little pleased (retirement being pretty boring)-to find a skeleton hidden in a secret room in the house. The skeleton appears to be more than 150 years old, so the local police leave it to the homeowner to solve the mystery. The police are much more interested in solving a local, modern murder. Somehow the two deaths are connected. First published in 1967, this is Aird's only non-Inspector Sloan mystery, and a complete triumph.… (mais)
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Thomas is bored to tears with his early retirement in a small English village when he and his wife discover a priest hole in their house. Hidden in the priest hole is a skeleton of a teenage boy. The police remove the body from the house but decline to investigate the death as the boy has been dead for a century and a half and his murderer would be long dead also.

Thomas decides to investigate the mystery to alleviate his boredom. Who is the boy? Who killed him? And why was his body hidden in the priest hole? ( )
  soraki | Jun 13, 2023 |
her only mystery NOT featuring Sloan but brilliantly done and an historical achievement ( )
  Overgaard | Dec 11, 2021 |
My spouse saw me reading two dead-tree books in a row, and thought to try to get me into the habit. So, she insisted I read this. It was an ok book, but I'll be glad to be getting back to my kindle. So will my tired arms and hands. Books are so heavy and unwieldy. ;-)

Anyway, this is one of those archetypal cozy-British-village, murder-mystery books which have been all the rage for close to a century now. This particular book came out not quite 50 years ago. We have a middle-aged man (50 something), who made a pile in London, but who also had a heart attack. So the "cure" was to quit work and go rest in the country...forever. I guess that was in the days before by-pass surgery and angioplasties (thank God we had angioplasties by 1987). Anyway, he buys an old Tudor manor house in a small village and is bored to tears.

But, he doesn't stay bored long. It seems that the house has a secret room, a place to hide Roman Catholic priests from back in the days when they were all being hunted down and executed, i.e. back in the late 17th century. It turns out there's a skeleton in the priest's hole, a skeleton that is roughly 150 years old, i.e. dating back to 1800 plus/minus. So, Thomas, the rich invalid, gets interested in tracking the family history of the people who lived in the house before him.

Along with "his" murder, Thomas becomes inadvertently involved in a more recent murder, a "village" murder. It seems that a young woman was just strangled. Her husband disappeared, and the police are trying to track him down to question him, perhaps arrest him and try him for the murder. Everyone in the village knows he didn't do it, so they're not much help to the police.

So, we get lots of background on priest holes and some history of the persecution of Roman Catholic families in those days, which is rather fun, and also some "mystery" bits, which are just so-so. I think the story about the 150-year-old murder mostly hangs together. The more recent murder not so much. Perhaps the author just forgot to add in some important details, or forgot to notice that some things just plain don't much make sense. Not unusual in this genre. Whatever, it's a reasonably GoodRead, though perhaps not a great one.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
This book is very similar to Josephine Tey's "Daughter of Time." A wealthy man is recovering from a heart attack in his new (to him) but otherwise extremely old house. He discovers a skeleton in a priest's hole, and slowly researches how it ended up there. I've gone and made it sound all dry, but really it's not — Aird did a brilliant job at atmosphere in this book. She slowly generates tension and makes the historical characters alive as we learn about them. If your favorite part of a traditional ghost story is the inevitable trip to the library, you should read this. ( )
  particle_p | Apr 1, 2013 |
Thomas Harding purchased a country estate sight unseen. He regrets having turned over the matter of the purchase to his wife during his convalescence, but all that changes when the odd placement of an electrical outlet leads to the discovery of a hidden room in the house. When they finally tear away the plaster someone had used to seal the hidden priest's hole, they find an old skeleton. With a current murder investigation, the local law enforcement is not very interested in the older crime. Thomas begins investigating on his own. This is probably going to be an all-time favorite mystery. Thomas uses the same types of principles that a good genealogist would utilize to investigate the persons living in the home at that time period and earlier. This is an absolute gem of a mystery and one that I'm sure I'll want to read again in the future. ( )
5 vote thornton37814 | Apr 14, 2012 |
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Aird, Catherineautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Lehr, PaulArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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He had wanted to do his own restoring, to buy a house with intangible qualities of atmosphere which couldn't be explained to a house agent. Still, Dora couldn't have known that Easterbrook Manor wouldn't have the right feel for him, and in a way it had been his own fault that it had been Dora who had to choose. It would never have happened that way if the doctor hadn't arrived unexpectedly one day to find him on the telephone to his office, his secretary taking notes by his side and his bed a mass of papers.
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When a London businessman retires early and buys a Tudor mansion, he's quite surprised-and perhaps even a little pleased (retirement being pretty boring)-to find a skeleton hidden in a secret room in the house. The skeleton appears to be more than 150 years old, so the local police leave it to the homeowner to solve the mystery. The police are much more interested in solving a local, modern murder. Somehow the two deaths are connected. First published in 1967, this is Aird's only non-Inspector Sloan mystery, and a complete triumph.

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