Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer

London barrister, Frank Amberley, is travelling down to his uncle & aunt's country house when he takes a wrong turn and comes across a car parked on the roadside with a young woman standing beside it. When he stops to ask for directions he discovers the woman is holding a gun and the man inside the car has been shot dead. He believes her claim that she is innocent and doesn't mention her presence when he reports the murder to the police.

The following day the dead man is identified as Mr Dawson, the trusted old butler from Norton Manor. Who could possibly have wanted to murder him?

Although I've enjoyed many of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances I hadn't read any of her mysteries before and wasn't sure what to expect and to be honest I wasn't impressed. Frank has his suspicions but doesn't share them and the young woman, Shirley, obviously knows something but she's not saying anything either. Most unfair to the reader in search of clues who has to wait until the end when all is revealed.

The story is saved by the wonderfully witty and sometimes snarky dialogue. Frank is arrogant and rude and doesn't mince words especially when it comes to his opinions on the abilities of the local constabulary. 
My favourite characters were Uncle Humphrey muttering and mumbling with disapproval.....'Murders at our very gates! I do not know what the world is coming to!' .......and Aunt Marion who is not as away with the fairies as she appears....' Dear me, how exciting!' Their contrasting attitudes to the mayhem happening around them makes for some very funny conversations.

All very class conscious 1930's and jolly good fun for a Sunday afternoon's reading.

Vintage Mystery Challenge 2013 - Scattergorie 23 - The Butler did it....or not! 


9 comments:

  1. I enjoy her mysteries - more for the dialogue, witty & snarky as you say! and the characters, sometimes familiar types from the Regencies (many a wifty aunt there), though never cookie-cutter copies. If you come across Behold, Here's Poison, that's one of my favorites.

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    1. I don't think I'll be rushing to read more of her mysteries but will check if the library has the one you mention.

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  2. I am not sure that Heyer's mysteries are as ageless as her romances are. I did like the dialogue in this one, but it many other ways it felt dated.

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    1. The dialogue was the highlight for me when really it should have been the mystery - definitely something missing there.

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  3. I haven't read any of her mysteries either. I may have to pick this one up, for the same challenge.

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    1. It's perfect for the butler scattergorie and a quick and entertaining read - hope you will enjoy it.

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  4. The only one of Heyer's mysteries I've read is Envious Casca and I enjoyed it, but not as much as her romances. I've been wondering which one to try next, so I might avoid this one for a while!

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    1. Lisa recommends Behold, Here's Poison so maybe you could try that one.

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