Malice Aforethought is a great British golden-age mystery with a killer twist.
Mrs. Julia Bickleigh was born into wealth and minor aristocracy. When her father blew the family fortunes before his death, Julia was forced to marry a common doctor. She never let her husband, Dr. Edmund Bickleigh, forget he was a worm well below her status.
“Dr. Bickleigh’s reactions to his wormhood were perfectly normal. He accepted it as one accepts a scar on the face. It was a pity, but there it was and it could not be helped.”
One day, the worm turned and the doctor began plotting his wife’s murder. He already had her replacement in mind, the extremely rich Miss Madeleine Cranmere. But first he must rid himself of his mistress.
Malice Aforethought was originally published in England in 1931. It had innovative plotting for its day with the whodunnit resolved on the first page leaving only the how to the rest of the book. After watching years of Columbo, the plot device seems rather creaky. However, the powerhouse ending makes up for it. If you like British golden-age mysteries, this is an excellent choice. It is also recommended to fans of Alfred Hitchcock films. 4 stars!
Thanks to Dover Publications and NetGalley for an advance copy.