Review: 'The Mysterious Affair of Giles', by Kyell Gold
The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery and is best read with a cup of tea nearby. (publisher’s blurb)
Kyell Gold already has the reputation of being the preeminent author of high-quality erotica in Furry fandom. Now it seems that he is trying to establish a similar reputation as furry fandom’s number one mystery author, at least of what is usually called the British “cozy” mysteries, or the country-house murder mysteries of which Agatha Christie was the acknowledged mistress.
The Mysterious Affair of Giles makes no secret of this. It is advertised as an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery. It is dedicated “To Dame Agatha for all the inspiration.”
An acknowledgement thanks London furry fan Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden for “Brit-picking” the manuscript, making sure that it, and especially the dialogue, are correctly British. The furry characters are all English animals except where they are noted as coming from British India. Most tellingly, the title The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an obvious pastiche of Christie’s first novel, the 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced both her as a mystery author and her most famous private detective, Hercule Poirot.
Yet do not think that Gold’s novella is a point-by-point imitation. There is no Famous Detective in it. The year is 1951; not exactly the present, but not the old-fashioned past, either. Tremontaine is a large manor house a couple of hours’ drive from London. The cast is Mr. Giles St. Clair, an aristocrat but also an up-to-date industrialist, his wife, and their son and daughter in their early twenties, all red foxes, and Martin Trevayn, Giles’ business partner, a stoat, their guest at Tremontaine on a business visit, plus the manor staff, a deer senior housemaid, two weasel cooks, a rabbit and an Indian otter housemaid, an Indian brown rat butler and Mr. Giles’ dhole valet.
Twelve characters. One of them is murdered.
The principal investigators are a badger police Inspector and his wolf Sergeant. The mystery’s protagonist is Ellie Stone, the young weasel assistant cook, a reader of murder-mystery novels who has never wanted to live in a real one, but who can’t help comparing the actual police’s sleuthing with her fictional police’s detecting. Naturally, everyone has a secret, and during the course of the story they all come out. Some are pertinent; others are not.
Kyell Gold’s stories often come with “Adults Only” readers’ advisories. The Mysterious Affair of Giles does not need one – quite – but its cast are all adults, and some of the secrets revealed are adult ones. I do not recall Agatha Christie ever delving into this territory, but it feels natural here and it helps to keep the story from being a period-piece.
Illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles,Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, February 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (107 [+2] pages), Kindle $6.99.
Ellie had no illusions that her relationship with Abby [Abby Rose White, the rabbit housemaid] was a secret from the more sharp-eyed and keen-nosed staff. You couldn’t live in close quarters with a pair of lovers and not realise it, not if you really kept an eye out. But the nice thing about being in a relationship with another female was that the people who admitted such a thing was possible and would therefore notice it were also generally the people who didn’t mind it. The ones who objected to it, called it unnatural and perverted, those were the ones who wouldn’t suspect even if Ellie kissed Abby right in front of them. (p. 15)
The year is meaningful for its background. In 1951, England was modernizing from its class-based social structure, but remnants still remained. The red foxes were the traditional upper classes, and some old habits remained.
"No, I feel so terrible. Please let me." She [Flora, the otter housemaid] paused. "Then you and Abby can spend the evening together, after she does Mr Trevayn’s room."
"Bother him," Ellie said with nearly as much heat as was being applied to the soup. "I’m certain he hired a fox valet simply to annoy the master."
"It can’t annoy the master much if Mr Trevayn never brings him to Tremontaine," Flora said. "He almost never visits anyway. What would be the point? I’m sure he hired the valet because he was an excellent valet."
"It’s transference," Ellie said. "When he orders the valet around, he pretends it’s Mr St. Clair, I’ll wager."
"Oh, you with your psychology," Flora laughed. (p. 6)
Since The Mysterious Affair of Giles is specifically an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery, it is probably Kyell Gold’s most funny animal furry story yet. The characters have a few animal characteristics such as fur, movable tails, flicking ears, and their sense of smell, but by its nature, all of the characters could be easily replaced by humans. However, Gold gives it enough surface furriness to satisfy most of Flayrah’s readers.
Flora frowned and then bent down to the paper. "It smells like …" She looked up. "Fox."
Ellie bent down as well. The trace was faint, but she caught the musky scent. "Can you tell which one?"
"Mmm. No." Flora sniffed again and shook her head. (p. 34)
A short time later, a middle-aged fox arrived in a white coat, and the Inspector accompanied him upstairs as well. "That’s the coroner," Miss Turner [the weasel senior cook] whispered.
"The ones in my novels are all foxes and wolves," Ellie murmured.
"Better senses of smell." Miss Turner tapped her nose. (pgs. 63-64)
The Mysterious Affair of Giles has a cover and five full-page illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles. This seventh of FurPlanet’s Cupcake novellas (shorter than a novel but longer than a short story) premiered at the Furry Fiesta 2014 convention, in Dallas on February 20-23, and is now available from FurPlanet’s online catalogue. If you like traditional English murder-mysteries, and you are a furry fan, this is for you.