Death Haunts the Hotel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Death of his Uncle, by barrister-turned-novelist C.H.B. Kitchen, chronicles the adventures of amateur detective Malcolm Warren around the “seedy” seaside hotels of Cornwall on the hunt for a murderer. Leading Warren to interrogate an endless round of hotel porters, managers, maids, and guests, the novel skillfully portrays the static nature of social relations and notions of “service” within the hotel system. This essay explores the motifs of conservatism and nostalgia in hotel mysteries, an understudied subgenre of the detective novel. During the interwar and postwar decades, hotel mysteries satirized the efforts of guests to disguise their class roots and showcased hotels’ commodification of romanticized, “bygone” versions of British national identity within their architecture, infrastructure, and marketing—demonstrating the enduring salience of these ideas in British popular culture. Situating the hotel mystery alongside archival research into the 1929 Margate hotel murder, the essay interrogates how these cases exposed the tension between guests’ anonymity and the legibility of their socioeconomic status to hotel staff.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Murder Mysteries, 1880-1965
EditorsLaura Mayhall, Elizabeth Prevost
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783031071591
ISBN (Print)9783031071584
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameCrime Files
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2947-8340
ISSN (Electronic)2947-8359


  • crime
  • hotels
  • detective fiction
  • murder
  • Agatha Christie


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