book cover of Murder At School

Murder At School

(1931)
(Was It Murder?)
A novel by

 
 
Was-It Murder?-deals with the phenomenon of coincidence by posing the question of how likely it is that two brothers attending the same boarding school meet with two separate accidental deaths-and curious ones at that-within the same schoolyear. In the manner typical of the Golden Age whodunnit, the solution is only presented in the final pages of the novel. Throughout the book, an amateur sleuth and a Scotland Yard detective vie with each other to solve the riddle, with only one of them successful in the end.

It should be noted that Was It Murder? remained Hilton's only detective novel-a brief youthful foray into crime fiction he shares with writers such as C S Forester (Payment Deferred, 1926; Plain Murder, 1930) and C P Snow (Death Under Sail, 1932).

Plot summary:
Oakington is one of the lesser-known public schools in England, and Dr Roseveare, its headmaster, has been trying hard for seven years to improve its reputation. When, in the winter term of 1927-28, one of the pupils is killed in his sleep by an old gas fitting falling down from the ceiling he contacts Colin Revell, an Old Boy, to discreetly investigate the matter. Not entirely convinced that there was no foul play involved but unable to pin down a motive on anyone, Revell leaves again after a few weeks, and most of the evidence is destroyed by the installation of electricity in the whole building.

A few months later Revell is shocked to learn that the deceased boy's brother has also died under mysterious circumstances-he seems to have jumped into the school's indoor swimming pool late at night after the water had been drained-and travels to Oakington of his own accord. Now it turns out that the closest relative of the two brothers, who have been orphans for years, is actually a teacher at Oakington, and that he stands to inherit a small fortune. At the same time Revell falls in love with that teacher's beautiful young wife.



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Used availability for James Hilton's Murder At School

Hardback Editions

May 1976 : USA Hardback
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Title: WAS IT MURDER (Fifty classics of crime fiction, 1900-1950)
Author(s): Hilton
ISBN: 0-8240-2376-5 / 978-0-8240-2376-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Dissertations-G
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


September 1972 : UK Hardback
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Title: Murder at School (Fingerprint Books)
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 0-241-02204-5 / 978-0-241-02204-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


November 1911 : USA Hardback
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Title: Murder at School
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 0-88411-829-0 / 978-0-88411-829-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Amereon Limited
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

September 2009 : USA Paperback

Title: Was It Murder? (World Cultural Heritage Library)
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 1-4387-9966-7 / 978-1-4387-9966-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Intl Business Pubns USA
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


December 2002 : UK Paperback
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Title: Murder at School (Dales Mystery)
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 1-84262-200-5 / 978-1-84262-200-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Dales Large Print
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Murder at School
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 1-903400-02-3 / 978-1-903400-02-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Swallowtail Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


December 1989 : UK Paperback

Title: Was it Murder? (Oxford paperbacks)
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 0-19-282671-9 / 978-0-19-282671-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 1979 : USA Paperback
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Title: Was It Murder?
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 0-486-23774-5 / 978-0-486-23774-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Dover Pubns
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


January 1980 : USA Paperback
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Title: Was It Murder?
Author(s): James Hilton
ISBN: 0-06-080501-3 / 978-0-06-080501-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperCollins (paper)
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA