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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Last House-Party, by Peter Dickinson


The Last House-Party
by Peter Dickinson
1982


I finished The Last House-Party a few weeks ago and I'm still not sure what I think about it. I found it to be very well written but ultimately I don't think it was quite my type of book. The back cover of my paperback edition bills it as a whodunit, but even though it contains some elements of mystery I don't think that description quite hits the mark.

I'd venture to say that, at least in this book (the only Dickinson I've read) the writing is closer to what you might call literary - and yes, I realize that that can be something of a loaded word. Dickinson proceeds in rather a leisurely style and even though the elements of mystery are fairly intriguing, they seem at times to almost be beside the point.

The last house party of the title took place in the Thirties, some four decades prior to the present day setting of the novel. Both threads of the narrative take place at the Snailwood estate, which was renowned for gathering high-ranking politicians and other luminaries for a series of legendary soirees. Part of the mystery deals with who might have committed a rather repellent crime during this final gathering and how it ties in with the demise of a fabulous mechanical clock that hasn't worked since that weekend.

All of which is left somewhat up in the air and might not appeal to readers to like things tied up in a nice neat package. But if you'd like something that takes a somewhat different approach to the standard mystery this might be worth a look.

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