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Book Review : Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay (British Library )


This book is one of the new editions of the successful British Library Crime Classic series. This is the third book by Mavis Hay that the British Library has re-published, having already re-published two of Hay’s novels “Death on the Cherwell” and “The Santa Klaus Murder”.  Mavis Doriel Hay (1894-1979) was a novelist during what was considered the golden age of British crime fiction. Her three detective novels were first published in the 1930’s.

Murder Underground was the first mystery book written by Mavis Doriel Hay and is set in North London around the area frequented by the Northern Line. When Miss Pongleton is found murdered on the stairs of Belsize Park station, her fellow boarders at the Frampton hotel set out to find the culprit.

The book is almost a cross between Agatha Christie and P G Wodehouse, and although set in North London it has a gentle rural feel displayed by the leading characters, their day to day experiences and the description of the local area. Whilst there is no Miss Marple or Poirot, the amateur sleuths of the Frampton Hotel attempt to make sense of the murder, whilst the bumbling antics of the murdered woman’s nephew almost give the reader a sense of comic relief.

Unlike many crime/mystery novels, Murder Underground has no central character; Hay cleverly transports the reader into the  thoughts and feelings of our cast, thus we are able to gain insights into their motives and secrets. Hay, gives the reader a real sense of how the ‘well to do’ live in 1930’s Britain, the Frampton Hotel is a place for ‘gentle and respectable’ residents, where Mrs Bliss ‘cares’ for her residents with a sense of superiority and condescension, although the reader should be able to detect a more earthy upbringing of the said lady. The murderer is finally revealed by a combination of events, and peace is restored and the threads of romance interspersed in the novel come to fruition.

Murder Underground does not have the gore of modern crime/murder fiction, but in its gentle way the plot offers a distinctly different experience. One of Hay’s strengths in this novel is the way she illustrates to the reader a sense of Britain in the 1930’s, especially the changing of social structures and the uncertainties of the time. Ultimately I agree with P D James who suggests “The detective stories of the interwar years were paradoxical. They might deal with violent death, but essentially they were novels of escape.”

Murder Underground offers the modern reader an entertaining escape back to the 1930’s, this novel will especially appeal to the fans of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. Although Hay never reaches the highs of those novelists, she does possess a sense of comedy that is rarely seen in this genre.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information of buy a copy of the book, visit the British Library shop here

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Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel


Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel

Brown’s Hotel is one of oldest Hotel’s in London  still in existence , opening it doors for the first time  in 1837.

The Hotel building is unusual being formerly 11 Georgian Townhouses.

Apparently even Queen Victoria herself used to pop in for tea, other distinguished guests have included presidents and prime ministers, royalty and writers.

One writer in particular is synonymous with Brown’s, Agatha Christie was a regular visitor and based one of her novels, At Bertram’s Hotel here.

The Brown’s Afternoon Tea has been a long tradition and is now served in the award winning English Tea Room.

Brown’s Afternoon Tea offers  the choice of  17 teas  and a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries.
Traditional Afternoon Tea £41.50
Freshly Cut Sandwiches

Assorted pastries

Freshly baked fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve

A choice of cakes from the trolley

A choice of teas and herbal infusions
Champagne Afternoon Tea £51.50
Indulge in a glass of R de Ruinart Champagne along with our traditional afternoon tea

Rosé Champagne Afternoon Tea £54.50
Indulge in a glass of Ruinart Rosé Champagne along with our traditional afternoon tea
The English Tea RoomAt Brown’s Hotel


Brown’s also provide an interesting alternative with their healthy Afternoon Tea which they call the Tea-Tox.

Tea-Tox Healthy Afternoon Tea £41.00
Smoked Chicken And Guacamole On Spelt Bread
Poached Salmon And Dill Crème Fraiche On Dark Rye Bread
Chicory Leaf With Smoked Mackerel And A Soft-Boiled Quail’s Egg
Gem Heart Leaf With Tabbouleh
Lime And Apple Jelly (Apple Juice, Lime Juice, Gelatine, Sugar Free Xylitol)
Blueberries And Lemon Cream Served In A Chocolate Cup (Blueberries, Lemon, Low-Fat Crème Fraîche And Sugar-Free Xxoline Chocolate)
Flourless Chocolate Cake (Hazelnut Oil, Marzipan, Eggs, Dark Chocolate, Sugar Free Xylitol, Topping: Dark Chocolate, Inverted Sugar, Butter, Orange Juice)
Orange Cake With Yogurt Topping (Orange, Sugar-Free Xylitol, Eggs, Ground Almond, Low Fat Yogurt, Low Fat Crème Fraîche, Lemon, Honey And Gelatine)
Seasonal Fruit Sorbet (Seasonal Fruit, Water, Stabilizer, Sugar Free Xylitol, Glucose)
Fruit Skewers With Yoghurt And Honey
Choice Of Teas

Tea-Tox’ Healthy Champagne Afternoon Tea £51.50
For A Memorable Afternoon, Relax With A Glass Of Dosnon & Lepage, Extra-Brut Champagne, Which Is Low In Calories.
Brown’s Tea Selections include :

Brown’s Morning Blend

Brown’s Afternoon Blend

Assam Gold, Assam, India

Darjeeling 2nd flush, Okayti Estate, Darjeeling, India

Nilgiri Frost, Parkside Estate, Nilgiri, India

Earl Grey, Sri Lanka

Ceylon, Sri Lanka

Organic Bohea Lapsang, Fujian, China

Cornish Grown Tea

Oriental Beauty Oolong

Organic Dragon Well Green Tea, Zhejiang, China

Jasmine Pearls, Fujian, China
Silver Needle White Tea, Fujian, China

Organic whole camomile flowers

Whole Peppermint Leaf


Blackcurrant and Hibiscus fruit infusion

Also offer fresh mint, fresh ginger, along with a Silver needle and Rosebuds blend.
If you want to find out more information or book , visit the Brown’s Hotel Website here