Thursday, February 2, 2012

Savoy Hotel, Mussoorie, India


Do not read if you plan to attend the 2012 Great Lakes Theater Outreach Touring Production of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Established in 1902, the hotel Savoy was a popular destination for British writers, so much so that the hotel bar was known as the Writer's Bar for decades. It was a favorite spot for the British Raj, especially those civil servants and military officers who wished to get away from the formality of Shimla, the so-called "summer capital" of British domination.

The story has it that a doctor administered a slow-acting poison to his lover in the attempt to be absent at the time of death, thus establishing a solid alibi. The murder was never officially solved, and Rudyard Kipling suggested to Arthur Conan Doyle that it might make a good starting point for a mystery. However, Conan Doyle chose not to use it himself, but instead suggest it to his colleague Agatha Christie, and she used this macabre plan as the inspiration for Styles.

However, considering Styles was her first novel and that prior to that point neither Conan Doyle nor any other author of note knew her personally, I find this tale to be somewhat ... apocryphal. Besides, it has one too many famous writers in it.

Seriously, the assumption that a young, female write must be too dumb to think of slow-acting poison on her own, that she would require a famous, male writer to provide her with such an obvious plot device, is irritating.

There is also the unsolved case of the owner of the Savoy, Lady Orme, who died after strychnine had been put into medicine she had been taking. That's another thing Agatha Christie, who worked during the war as a nurse in a dispensary, must have learned about later from some smart man; strychnine.

Did I mention the Savoy haunted? It is also haunted.

The Hindu


  1. Hotel bookings in Mussoorie is definitely a tough nut to crack since the queen of hills is flooded with tourists and vacationers throughout the year. Therefore, all the pre-planners need to book their share before hand in order to have a hassle-free holiday at this nature’s gift. You can book your hotels online as well for that matter.