One of the Observer's 1,000 novels everyone must read, The Beast Must Die is a darkly compelling psychological thriller in which a crime writer plans to commit the perfect murder. The fourth Nigel Strangeways mystery.
Respected crime writer Frank Cairns plots the perfect murder - a murder that he himself will commit. Cairns intends to murder the hit-and-run driver who killed his young son, but when his intended victim is found dead and Cairns becomes the prime suspect, the author insists that he has been framed. An old friend of Cairns calls in private detective Nigel Strangeways, who must unravel a fiendishly plotted mystery if he is to discover what really happened to George Rattery.
About the author: Nicholas Blake was the pseudonym of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who was born in County Laois, Ireland in 1904. After his mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. He was educated at Sherborne School and Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927. Blake initially worked as a teacher to supplement his income from his poetry writing and he published his first Nigel Strangeways novel, A Question of Proof, in 1935. Blake went on to write 19 more crime novels, all but four of which featured Nigel Strangeways, as well as numerous poetry collections and translations. During the Second World War he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, which he used as the basis for the Ministry of Morale in Minute for Murder, and after the war he joined the publishers Chatto & Windus as an editor and director. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968 and died in 1972 at the home of his friend, the writer Kingsley Amis.
"A fiendishly baffling murder" (Observer)
"Ingenious" (P.D. James)
"An engaging yarn" (Guardian)
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Long. Intriguing. Amusing.
The putter incident.
Why so staccato? I like the series and the narrator has excellent tone and pitch but why... He.. Has... To. Talk.. Like... This... I ... Don't... Know... It's annoying and puts me off buying his work which is sad as I like the stories.
- Ms. grant
A good mystery struggling with a dull agenda
A good deal less mid-twentieth century sexual and moral and pseudo-science ideology agenda pushing; also a slightly less staccato style of reading, perhaps this is as much to do with Cecil Day-Lewis' text as Dyer's presentation.
A lack of sensible character development or even of careful presentation, almost throughout stereotype clings even in any attempt at development. Cecil Day-Lewis' twee Oxbridge self-justifying style intrudes rather too much, marked as this is by didacticism wrapped up thinly in social themes.
Of course. He isn't the best reader, even of second class (but interesting) psycho-babble mystery, still, he does a fair job.
Kris Dyer captures Nigel Strangeway's necessarily clipped-tones and fussy mannerisms rather well .. a redeeming quality that some current actors/ readers seem to play down, in capturing the era.
Stick at it, despite all the drawbacks .. it is a good story (if longing to be so much better).
- N. Hammond