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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 378

The “murder room” of the title is a gallery of a private museum specializing in interwar Britain. This exhibition area of the Dupayne Museum includes artifacts related to famous homicides of the era. Soon after police commander Adam Dalgliesh and a friend visit the museum, one of the museum’s trustees is found dead. Neville Dupayne has been burned up in his car in the museum’s garage. He and his siblings, Caroline and Marcus, were appointed trustees by the founder, their late father. Part of the mystery revolves around the upcoming decision to close the museum, which is in financial straits. Neville alone favored closing it. Was he killed for this reason?

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On the same day as Neville’s death, the museum’s custodian had been hit by a car. Tally Clutton, who lives in a cottage on the grounds, was not seriously injured. She is the one who finds the grisly sight of Neville’s burning car. Was the person whose car struck her the same one who killed Neville?

Dalgliesh and detectives Kate Mishkin and Piers Tarrant arrive to investigate. As they interview Neville’s siblings and the museum staff, various personal details emerge that might be clues to either or both crimes. While Dalgliesh is in the Murder Room, a cellphone rings inside a trunk. They find another body inside, Celia Mellock, a former student at the school where Caroline Dupayne, Neville’s sister, is the assistant principal.

Through a random encounter, Tally recognizes a museum patron who is a possible suspect in her hit and run. Although he is cleared, it emerges that he was involved in a sexual relationship with the now-dead Celia, which extends to a secret sex club that Caroline runs, which is patronized by elite Londoners. Another attempt is made on Tally’s life before Dalgliesh and his team finally uncover the truth. Muriel Godby, the museum receptionist, is both fiercely loyal to Caroline—with whom she had formerly worked at the school—and worried that she will become unemployed when the museum closes. To prevent its closing, she had killed Neville and then killed Celia, an inadvertent witness to the murder, as well as tried to kill Tally because she thought she could identify her as the killer.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1067

Scotland Yard commander Adam Dalgliesh meets an old friend, and the two visit the Dupayne Museum. The Dupayne is a private museum that focuses on Great Britain in the years between World War I and II, and its most famous collection is the Murder Room, which contains memorabilia related to some of the most famous murder cases of the period. As he leaves, Dalgliesh notes that he is glad to have visited, but that he has no interest in returning.

The three adult children of museum founder Max Dupayne serve as trustees and hold the future of the museum in their hands. Neville Dupayne, the eldest, is a psychologist, Caroline Dupayne works as the assistant principal at a girls’ school, and Marcus Dupayne is a freshly retired civil servant. Because of low revenues and a soon-to-expire lease, the museum is at a crisis point. Caroline, who lives in a luxurious apartment located in the mansion that houses the museum, and Marcus, who wants to be more involved with the administration of the museum during his retirement, want things to continue as they have. Neville, who, of the three siblings is the least directly involved with the museum, and whose daughter needs money, makes clear his intention to vote for closure. The three meet, and although Caroline and Marcus attempt to influence Neville, the older brother stands firm.

Museum staff members include curator James Calder-Hale, who is dying of cancer. He sees the museum and the work he has done to create and sustain it as his legacy. Custodian Tally...

(The entire section contains 1445 words.)

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