By Georgette Heyer
“But what you see in this case to be pleased about I can’t make out! Seems to me it’s either going to be so easy that this local Sergeant you think so well of might just as well have solved it for himself; or it’s going to be such a snorter that we shall never get to the bottom of it.’ ‘It’s got class,’ said Hemingway, selecting a radish from the dish. ‘It’s got a good decor, too, and, barring the Pole, I like the sound of the dramatis personae. It isn’t every day you get a murder amongst a lot of nice, respectable people living in a country village.“
For some reason, I never read this mystery by Georgette until this week. The narration and acting by the reader, Ulli Burve’ was excellent. The puzzle was clever and twisty and Inspector Hemingway is as bright as ever. And yes, he still is a fan of “psychology.” As always in a cozy mystery many secrets are revealed. Heyer is a master at the characterization of the mostly stock English village types. And always, the witty repartee and humorous observations were one of the strengths. There is a slight but sunny little romance as well. I was mystified as to the perpetrator until the end but it was one of two people I hoped it would be. I wish the final confrontation and reveal would have been real time and not just regurgitated later because it would have made a deliciously satisfactory scene. I’m knocking off part of star for that **3 1/2 stars out of 5**
August 10, 2020
By Georgette Heyer
Steeped in the idyllic atmosphere and culture of country life in 1930’s England, Why Shoot a Butler is for anglophiles who like period pieces only. The mystery isn’t much. A reader who is only half paying attention knows who the main villain is, why the murders occurred, and the big secret right from the beginning. But the romance is one of her best, the wit and humor are tops, and the characters that populate the manor houses, estates, cottages, and villages are a delight. They are all deftly drawn, but my favorite is Lady Matthews, our hero’s aunt, whose delightfully vague and placid manner hides a mind like a steel trap. She reminded me a bit of Harriet in Sprig Muslin
The two principals are the renowned and brilliant barrister cum amateur detective, Frank Amberly, and the damsel in distress cum possible criminal, Sally Brown. Frank is the perfect combo of Heyer’s Mark I and Mark 2 heroes. He is rude and mocking, with flashes of temper and a hint of danger. But dogs love him. He is straight out of the regency hero playbook but transplanted a hundred or so years forward. He is a mixture of Robert Beaumaris and Lord Worth. Shirley on the other hand is a thoroughly modern girl. I can think of no regency heroine like her. She acts tough, is independent, self-sufficient, and courageous, yet Heyer gives her just enough vulnerability to soften her. I found it a very intriguing match-up. And the suspenseful race towards the end to avoid a tragedy is action-packed, tense, and suspenseful. Combined with Ulli Birve’s stellar narration and acting, It is my favorite Heyer mystery, I think. **4 1/2 stars out of 5**
August 21, 2020
by Georgette Heyer
Many Georgette Heyer fans count Elinor as a favorite due to her dry sarcastic humor and banter with Carlyon, our hero. And Carlyon does seem to enjoy Elinor’s wit and her lack of deference. Unfortunately, I found her unremittingly whiny throughout the whole book. When she was not complaining, she was being ungrateful while seemingly archly teasing and flirting with Carlyon, our hero. To me, it seemed like phony and affected posturing. To make matters worse, She refused to admit how lucky she was that her one day marriage to Eustace, arranged by Carlyon, saved her from a life of drudgery and landed her with a house, and probably a nice little competence. To the contrary, she kept threatening to go back to her perspective obnoxious employer and give all of the money away so she could go back to being a governess. I was hoping Carlyon would take her up on her threat and bundle her into the next coach straight to Mrs. Scattergood and her no doubt darling children. Honestly! So our heroine was a big fail. All the other characters were likable (Carlyon, Nicky, John, Beccles) to delightful (Francis, Bouncer). The resolution to the mystery/adventure was twisty and surprising.**3 stars out of 5**
September 2, 2017
by Georgette Heyer
“The bare expanse of Finchley Common being reached, a faint hope of being held up by highwaymen sustained Miss Fairfax’s spirits for some way, but when the equipage arrived at the Whetstone gate without incident, she relapsed again into melancholy.”
This was a mildly amusing collection of stories by the great Georgette Heyer. A few of them have quite a bit to recommend them. I had previously read Pistols for Two, and had never been tempted to reread it so it had been decades since I previously perused these confections. With the addition of 3 previously uncollected stories, it was ample motivation to read the book again.
Georgette Heyer devotees will want to dip into this collection, if only because many plot points, relationships, and characters are very reminiscent of some of her beloved novels. Unfortunately, because they are short stories, there is little to no multi-layered character-building and the romances rely on instant attraction with hopefully lifelong matches made with scant interaction or conversation between the two principles. I fear for the success of many of the matches made in these stories. Most pairs seem to be very incompatible. Too many of the young ladies are young, naïve, and somewhat silly. It’s as if Gervase in The Quiet Gentleman had ended up with Marianne, or Gareth in Sprig Muslin had ended up with Amanda. There are certainly no Venetias, Fredericas, Sophys, or Arabellas in this collection! Nay, nor a Hester or a Drusilla either!
There is little of the social comedy that results from navigating the social whirl and glittering balls of the Ton in London or Bath. Nine of the fourteen stories take place largely or entirely on the road in coaches and Inns usually with a foolish elopement involved. One of the exceptions is A Husband for Fanny which was one of my favorites. Other favorites include Bath Miss, A Clandestine Affair, Pursuit, and Incident on the Bath Road.
My enjoyment of the kindle version was very marred by bad formatting. Where ever there was supposed to be an apostrophe, it was substituted by a series of weird symbols. It was distracting in the extreme and very irritating. Luckily this is a very quick read. For Georgette Heyer devotees only. **3 out of 5 stars**
March 29, 2021