Who Wrote the Whodunit?

A Guest Blog by Author Donna McLean

Being a lifelong reader of mysteries, one of my favorite pastimes has been discovering authors who are beloved for their humorous writing, or kiddie lit, or horror stories, or even romance novels, dipping their quills into the mystery genre and delivering respectably good whodunits. The following are the ones I consider must-read mysteries, listed by title without the author’s name. I hope the clues will help you guess the writer’s identity, but if you struggle, I will reveal the author's name alongside each of their must-read mysteries at the end of this blog.

Can you guess who wrote the whodunit?

1. The Red House Mystery

Don’t pooh-pooh the idea of this author trying his hand in the mystery genre.

As he wrote in the book dedicated to his papa -

“Like all really nice people, you have a weakness for detective stories.”

What follows is quite the treat for the rest of us, too. Stay indoors on a blustery day and immerse yourself in this absorbing novel written with all the wit and charm that this author is known for, but beware - this one is certainly not for children.

Deep in the British countryside, in a lovely but lonely old mansion, a couple of chums who fancy themselves a 1920s version of Holmes and Watson accept an invitation to spend a weekend at friend and millionaire Mark Ablett’s mansion. They arrive immediately after Mark’s long-lost twin brother is bumped off, in a locked room, and their host is conveniently absent. The two set out to solve the murder and the disappearance, and the author gives us suspense, witty dialogue, adventure, and a jolly good mystery that is worth reading and reading again.

Who wrote the whodunit?

2. Footsteps in the Dark

Sparks fly in a completely unexpected direction with this popular romance novelist’s creepiest mystery, or spook story, or is it a spy thriller? She was adept at writing all of the above! A perfect read for this season of the year, a novel set in a big ol’ rambling Priory that is rumored to be haunted doesn’t scare off the three very British siblings who have recently inherited the estate and surrounding grounds from their wealthy uncle - until things begin to go bump in the night and townsfolk turn up dead. Everyone blames the hooded monk who supposedly haunts the old house and rambling ruins of the Priory, and if seeing is believing, then the siblings must agree that the fearsome stories are true.

My favorite part of this novel is the mansion itself, as it quickly becomes a fully-fledged character in its own right and really absorbs the reader into the shadows and whispers of the creaky, creepy old house.

Whose whodunit is this? 

3. The Fourth Man

Best known for mystery but equally adept at scaring the pants off the unsuspecting reader with her Twilight Zone-type short stories, you may not be able to sleep at all if you stay up past midnight reading eerie adventures such as In A Glass DarklyThe Dressmaker’s DollThe Fourth Man, just to name a few of the terrifying tales written by this author. I’m happy to say that newly published anthologies containing her short stories have been released in recent years, and many are available on Nook or Kindle as individual stories. Sort of supernatural but with a psychological bent that served her well in her most famous literary endeavors, this writer has been featured in past Pretty Literate Book Boxes.

Who might this whodunit writer be?

4. The Murders in the Rue Morgue

In an ironic twist, an author best known for his macabre tales ignited the development of what was then a new genre, the detective story aka murder mystery, with this rather gruesome novella. Published in 1841, a good 30 years before Sherlock Holmes became a worldwide sensation, The Murders in the Rue Morgue is considered the very first whodunit ever, featuring the first detective ever, C. Auguste Dupin, and the first locked room mystery.

If you’ve yet to figure out who wrote this whodunit, a little bird may quoth you his name.

Think you know who wrote these 4 must-read mysteries?

I hope you have enjoyed our little guessing game and that the clues have led you down a twisting and overgrown path to discover a short story, a book, or an author you will enjoy reading on dark and stormy nights.

But don’t blame me if you can’t sleep – and don’t put out the lights!


  1. The Red House Mystery author is A.A. Milne! Yes, that A.A. Milne!
  2. The Footsteps in the Dark author is already beloved by #PLeeps everywhere - Georgette Heyer.
  3. The Fourth Man author is Agatha Christie, creator of both the unforgettable Miss Marple and unparalleled Hercule Poirot.
  4. The Murder in the Rue Morgue author is Edgar Allan Poe, author of The Raven.

Meet Donna McLean

One of the personal perks of Pretty Literate has been meeting and making new bookish friends the world over and that is exactly what I found when I met Donna McLean - a new friend.  Donna is fascinated by genealogy, local lore and legend, cats, and classic mysteries (both film and literary). She is my go-to girl for anything mystery and I know if she suggests it, I will love it.

For all of you Outlander fans, Donna is a direct descendant of the Highland Scots who settled in North Carolina many generations ago. She is a born and bred Southern lady who still believes in gracious living and hospitality for all. And y'all, she has the beautiful southern accent to prove it.

As an author of short stories and clean cozy mystery novels, she hopes that every reader feels right at home in Sparrow Falls, the southern setting of her Sparrow Falls Mystery Series. 

She has been included on the author pages of the prestigious Cozy-Mystery website, and her seasonally-themed short stories that are available individually on Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle regularly place among the Top 100 titles for cozy mysteries!

You can learn more about Donna by following her publisher’s Facebook page, Quaint Cottage Mysteries, for current information and updates on upcoming novels and short stories, or by visiting her Sparrow Falls website.

1 comment

  • Hi, Donna! I want to first take a moment to gush fangirl-like over how much I have enjoyed reading your cozy mysteries! We lived in North Carolina for 5 years as a military family so reading about the area is always like a homecoming for me, and you bring it to life perfectly in your books. We are members of Clan Ross and were part of the Cape Fear Clan Association; my daughter competed in Scottish dancing at Highland Games in Grandfather Mountain and other states and we all had various garments/kilts in several Ross tartan patterns. It seems we have a lot in common!
    I could not guess the author of The Red House- I was pleasantly shocked to find it was Milne! I knew Footsteps in the Dark as Heyer is a favorite author, and I knew the Rue Morgue author Poe as I had read it before. I totally blanked on Christie, though! Maybe I needed more coffee this morning.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us- I will be looking for The Red House to read for sure. I really enjoy your writing and I take your opinion on book recs as golden!

    Lynda A.

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