It's really easy for latter day homages to early 1930's / 1940's arch, drawing room style comedies or take offs to overdo it to the point where it's cartoonish. THE AFFAIR OF THE MUTILATED MINK doesn't overdo it, but on the other hand it doesn't under deliver on a slightly comic (tongue in cheek) murder drama in the realms of high British aristocracy.
The Earl of Burford is a recent convert to the joys of the cinematographic entertainment and he's more than a bit chuffed at the Hollywood crowd arriving. He doesn't even mind the eccentric screenwriter who invites his own secretary along - even though he's an odd sort of a cove. Of course neither the Earl or the Countess are convinced about Gerry's plan of inviting both her suitors for a close up comparison - but who can talk Gerry out of anything. Catching up with the long-lost cousin and her husband, recently returned from Australia are about the only thing that the Countess can look forward to, whilst the Earl is starting to worry about the history of large house parties at Alderley - seems they have a bit of an history. With the arrival of the totally unexpected Great Italian Actress and the equally early arrival of the very effacing librarian; the party is primed and starting to feel the tension rise. Then a death occurs (of course!).
The murder is being ably investigated by local Inspector Wilkins - who has been involved in mysterious deaths at Alderley in the past. He's been doing an admirable job, but in "rides" Allgood of the Yard. Allgood is here to save the day and solve the puzzle, being a master detective and all round genius (definitely a legend in his own notebooks!)
In this mix of characters there are more daring deeds, bad 'uns, nefarious goings on, creeping around in the dead of night, cheating, snooping, lying, ducking and weaving than you'd think possible to fit into 350 pages. It's a nicely complex plot which doesn't ever become overly complicated and there's some fun twists on the standard of the final "everybody in the drawing room" conclusion.
At the end of the day Merryweather saves the day - now you'll have to read the book to find out which day!