Children's author A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, also wrote a detective novel. An odd connection exists between Milne's The Red House Mystery and Downton Abbey. The bones of the classic British mystery are on display in Milne's book:
* the English country house setting
* a crime investigated by an amateur
* a sidekick
* a locked-room puzzle
* a whodunit with clues that play fair with the reader.
The book opens "below stairs" . . .
Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey’s creator and writer, is certainly familiar with British mysteries from the same era as Milne's. Fellowes wrote the country house mystery Gosford Park and has a screenplay for Agatha Christie’s The Crooked House in the works. Fellowes says “murder in a genteel setting” never goes stale.
Downton Abbey was originally conceived as a spin-off of Gosford Park. Though the series went in another direction, the remnants of that initial idea remain in the suspicious deaths that affect upstairs and downstairs at Downton. So will the Tony Gillingham in Downton Abbey follow in the footsteps of his namesake? Will he try to unravel the mystery surrounding his valet’s death?
What do you think? Please leave a comment, but no spoilers. Those of us watching Downton on PBS stations have just learned of a witness to the valet's death.