Going for the Golden: “Murder in the Museum” by John Rowland


In 1938’s Murder in the Museum by John Rowland, Henry Fairhurst has been doing research in the British Museum Reading Room when he gets annoyed that a man nearby seems to have fallen asleep. But when Henry goes to wake up the man, he discovers that the man is dead. Inspector Shelley, called to the scene, is certain that the man has been poisoned with cyanide. The victim proves to be Professor Julius Arnell, an expert in Elizabethan poets. Soon Inspector Shelley learns that another expert in the same field died in the British Museum six months earlier, and a third expert has gone missing. It doesn’t take long before they locate the missing man’s body, also at the British Museum, but stabbed only half an hour earlier.

The will brings in new information, as it specifies that Arnell’s large estate will go to his daughter Violet for her life and then to her distant cousin, Moses Moss, upon her death. The cousin is the son of a relative disowned by Arnell’s family for marrying a Jew. But when Violet shows the will to Henry Fairhurst, they discover that it is a forgery. This leads to drama, which concludes the book with an exciting car chase.

I came across Murder in the Museum by accident, looking to see if another book of the same name was on audio. I’m glad I found this book because I found it interesting, though I will point out that the official description does not match the actual plot of the book. The plot of this book kept me entertained, with interesting details. Some of the characters come across as memorable, but most don’t stand out very much. Inspector Shelley seems sympathetic, allowing the amateur Henry Fairhurst to participate to an extent.

It is worth noting that there are descriptions of anti-semitic attitudes, such as the family that ostracized their daughter for marrying a Jew. The audiobook begins with a disclaimer about the language, but I felt that the message of the book was sympathetic to those of Jewish ancestry and negative towards the ones who would behave in such a way.

The audiobook was performed by Peter Wickham. It was a reasonable performance, but it didn’t really inspire me. The narration seems flat at times and didn’t have a lot of expression.

Murder in the Museum was a decent book, with some points of interest, but it didn’t seem to have the depth that other books contain. I found it somewhat interesting, in particular the conclusion, but it didn’t appeal strongly to me. I give the book three stars.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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