Literary 'whodunits' to leave you on the edge of your seat

Sunday (22 May) was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. A prolific crime fiction author, he is best known for introducing us to the eccentric but brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes.

Famed for using careful observation, logic, and forensic science to crack even the hardest of cases, Holmes is one of, if not, the most popular fictional detective to date and has been portrayed in countless films, television series, stage productions, radio dramatisations and even video games.

In honour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday we have considered some of the most head-scratching 'whodunits' in literature.

Who opened the chamber of secrets?
Very strange happenings begin occurring at Hogwarts in JK Rowling's second Harry Potter instalment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ghosts, students and even cats are being found 'petrified' (frozen like a statue) and mysterious messages start appearing on the walls, one of which reveals that the chambers of secrets has been opened.

With only the heir of Slytherin able to open the chamber and control the monster contained inside it, it's a race against time for Harry, Ron and Hermonie to discover the culprit and close the chamber before anybody gets killed.

What are the Thirty-Nine Steps?
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan is one of the earliest examples of the 'man-on-the-run' thriller. The novel follows Richard Hannay who, when accosted by an American spy in fear of his life, becomes embroiled in Germany's imminent plans to destabilise Europe by assassinating a Greek diplomat and invading the UK.

When the American spy is fatally stabbed, Richard takes it upon himself to take up his friend's cause. Looking through his notes for clues, Richard finds a reference to the mysterious thirty-nine steps. It is down to Richard to discover exactly what/where the thirty-nine steps are and why they are so important to the enemy's plan.

Who is responsible for Eva Smith's suicide?
JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls is a play about the suicide of a young working-class woman called Eva Smith. A former employee at Birling & Co., Inspector Goole arrives at the Birling residence to speak with Mr. Birling concerning his responsibility towards Eva's death. However, as the evening unfolds, it soon becomes apparent that each member of the Birling family had been involved with Eva, and anyone of them could be held accountable for her death.

Each of these books is full of suspense, and will have you racing through the pages eager to reach the big reveal. If you've already solved these mysteries, why not choose another crime and mystery favourite from the Kumon Recommended Reading List, and put on your detective hat ready to do some investigating of your own.
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