WHODUNIT?: Murder Most British

Course Number


Study Group Leader (SGL)

Marilyn Brooks


This course will be held in the BOLLI Gathering Space (a 58’ x 32’ room) with a maximum enrollment of 22. The Gathering Space will be equipped with two HEPA air purifiers.

10-Week Course

Feb. 26 - May 6. No Class April 22.


Why do we read murder mysteries or crime novels? What about them satisfies us? Is it the plot, the characters, the setting? Do we want to be frightened by one that’s hard-boiled or do we want a cozy one that we hope will end well for all concerned (well, except for the victim and the murderer, naturally)? Mystery fans are probably most familiar with crime novels from the British Isles, partly because the genre achieved most of its early readership with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie. In this course we will read both authors and will also venture further afield, reading mysteries that take place in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. We will contrast and compare the differences in the books that reflect the similarities and differences in the four parts of the British Isles. YouTube videos or online interviews will help give us a sense of the authors whose works we’re reading. We will share our viewpoints and hopefully introduce others to new authors and ideas. We will act, in a way, as sleuths, examining the clues as to what makes a mystery worth reading and, as we gather together, perhaps come to a solution that satisfies us all.   

Group Leadership Style

Roughly the same amount of lecture and discussion.

Course Materials

A number of short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (England): The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Man with the Twisted Lip, The Final Problem, and The Adventure of the Empty House), plus Christopher Morley’s introduction to Doyle’s works and the first two chapters of A Study in Scarlet; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (England); And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (England);  Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey (England); Garnethill by Denise Mina (Scotland);    Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham (Wales); The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville (Northern Ireland); Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty (Northern Ireland).

Preparation Time

Except for the first and last weeks, we will read one book a week. The books will be between 270-375 pages.  


Marilyn Brooks has been a devoted mystery fan since her formative years when she discovered Nancy Drew and read the entire series through The Ringmaster’s Secret. She reads three or four mysteries a week and is equally devoted to private eyes, police investigators, and amateur detectives.  She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America.  She has been writing a weekly mystery review blog since 2010, marilynsmysteryreads.com, and some of her posts have been reprinted in the BOLLI Banner under the title Mystery Maven Marilyn. She has taught thirteen previous WHODUNIT? courses.