I’m sad to report that James Anderson’s The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy is the last of my stash of books procured when I went to London a couple of years ago. But, as a British stately home cozy with a hundred plot twists, it epitomized the fun I had reading that stack of books.
It was really the title that convinced me to buy the book out of all the many options I’d identified on the first run through the bookstore, and the title does reflect the delightful combination of old-fashioned love of tradition and a sense of the absurd that Anderson manages to simultaneously impart. The book begins with assorted characters all planning to converge on Alderley, a country house for the weekend, everyone from a Texas millionaire gun collector and his jewel-dripping wife to a couple of foreign diplomats, not to mention a near-stranger and a crashing bore (nicknamed Algy, no less) who each manage to finagle invitations, and of course the Earl and his family — and his gun collection, which extends even to cannons.
All the action happens in the middle of the night, though. People are seen tramping through the corridors, bumping into one another, there’s a mysterious scream, jewels go missing, the house alarm goes off, a dead body is located, a woman goes missing, and a bloodstained egg cosy is one of the most intriguing clues.
Our intrepid investigator, Detective Sargeant Wilkins, isn’t sanguine, as he constantly informs us. In fact, he’s “not sanguine at all.” He frankly informs everyone that he’s not up to the task, but have no fear — he’s just playing up his country ways while he quietly goes about unmasking criminals, spies, lovers and murderers.
The book is set in the 1930s, which is central to the plot in regard to the two foreigners visiting for diplomatic reasons and also to what happens to one of the main characters. If this were a movie, the critics would characterize it as a “romp,” and if you like that kind of movie, you’ll enjoy The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy.