Despite my fondness for British Golden Age mysteries (Christie, Sayers, Marsh), I have yet to find a more contemporary mystery writer that I really enjoy. To wit, Ruth Rendell is widely regarded as a master of the form, yet this manor mystery about a woman found dead in the woods left me cold (pun not intended). There's a certain amount of wit that I feel is lacking here, despite erudite nature of the story.A Guilty Thing Surprised is a novel that features Chief Inspector Wexford and Inspector Burden investigating the murder of Elizabeth Nightingale, the mistress of a manor that only seems genteel on the surface. Suspects immediately crop up as a series of interviews reveal the victim's manipulative nature. The retiring husband, the worldly au pair, and the professor brother--each one has something to hide. The novel's title is from a Coleridge poem, alluding to a setting that involves many literary and academic preoccupations.I don't know why but I found the investigation, which mostly hinges on witness testimony, that I feel is too innocuous and paint-by-numbers. The alibi structure Murder at the Orient Express was utterly engaging for me, but the similar strategy here isn't successfully executed at all. The final clue to the murderer's identity is certainly transgressive, but the expository nature of the reveal dampened whatever reaction I may have had about the facts.I will have to examine my preference for older cozies at a later time, because it's something that has become more evident as I continue reading mysteries.Originally posted on my blog.