Review: Darkness at Pemberley

Darkness at PemberleyT.H. White, Darkness at Pemberley

This mystery novel begins at Cambridge, where a history don and an undergraduate are nearly simultaneously found shot in their rooms. The local police are called, and Inspector Buller is assigned to investigate. At first it appears that the don murdered the student and then killed himself, but Buller notices a few oddities in the don’s rooms that contradict this murder-suicide theory. He subsequently uncovers a drug scandal in the college and eventually discovers the real murderer’s identity. Unfortunately, the murderer has a cast-iron alibi, so Buller is forced to let the man go free. Buller then goes to visit his friend Charles Darcy at Pemberley and tells him about the murders. Charles, enraged by this injustice, goes to Cambridge to threaten the murderer. When Buller discovers this, he is terrified, knowing that the murderer will now come after Charles in retaliation. Almost immediately, strange things begin to happen at Pemberley, and Buller is convinced that the murderer is hiding somewhere in the house or grounds. Can he catch the murderer before his friend becomes the next victim?

Obviously, I was drawn to this book because of the title; any Austen fan will immediately recognize Pemberley as the name of Mr. Darcy’s grand estate in Pride and Prejudice. Sadly, from my point of view, there’s very little connection to Austen’s novel in this book, except that the current inhabitants of the house are still called Darcy. But this is still a very interesting and suspenseful book, despite the fact that it’s a bit schizophrenic. The first part of the book seems like a traditional locked-room mystery, and the solution is both complicated and ingenious. But as I mentioned, the murderer’s identity is discovered fairly early in the book. The novel then shifts to more of a suspense/thriller, as the inhabitants of Pemberley wait for the murderer to make his move so that they can catch him. The novel genuinely creeped me out in places; the idea of being trapped in a maze of a house, with someone pursuing you whom you can’t see, is absolutely claustrophobic and terrifying to me! So if you enjoy that kind of thing, I definitely recommend this book!

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