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review 2017-10-19 08:23
Blunt Instrument
A Blunt Instrument - Georgette Heyer

Here's the thing about most Golden Age mysteries:  the puzzle is all.  No matter how witty or clever or brilliant the writing is, it's almost never about the characters themselves, but about the murder mystery puzzle.  Which is, of course, why I read mysteries; I love the puzzle and I love trying to solve it.  But unfortunately, if the reader does solve the murder/puzzle, there's not a lot of characterisation to fall back on; solve the puzzle and the remaining story can be tedious.

 

I solved this one on page 88-89.  I don't think I did anything particularly clever, just that a certain passage hit me a certain way and it all became clear to me.  The only thing I ended up getting wrong was the relation of the murderer to one of the characters and then only because I imagined the murderer to be the wrong age.

 

I didn't dnf, or skip to the end to see if I was correct solely because, when Heyer is 'on' with her writing she is on, and this is one of her better writing efforts, even if the plotting went astray (and I've found out her mysteries were all plotted by her husband).  The story behind the mystery plot is a farce and Heyer thoroughly caricatures everyone except Hannasyde.  The dialog was electric and even though I was thoroughly impatient with Neville at the start, I thought him wildly entertaining by the end.  I wanted to keep reading just to see what he'd say and do next. 

 

So, 2 stars for the plotting because... page 89.  There was never any doubt on my part that I was wrong.  But an extra star because the characters are Heyer at her wittiest and most hilarious.

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review 2017-10-14 15:35
I was right!!
A Blunt Instrument - Georgette Heyer

During the last third of the book I had a sudden conviction of who was the murderer, and I was right.I feel rather chuffed about that, pleased with myself over it.

 

And I will spend the next few days thinking, writing and speaking in early 20th Century English. Some authors do that to one.

 

Ernest Fletcher (and yes, the Murder She Wrote theme music was a regular feature of my reading of this) is found bludgeoned to death. Most of the people around him describe him as well-liked but this is on the surface only.  When he's found dead and there doesn't appear to be a very long window of opportunity Superintendent Hannasyde has to investigate, helped and hindered by his bible thumping Constable Glass and the indolent nephew of the deceased Neville.  As the layers begin to be scraped off the stories a lot of suspects begin to mount up and things get more and more complicated. Then a second body turns up...

 

I enjoyed it, inter-war fiction is some of my favourite reads and this was a good example, yes the characters behave in strange-to-a-modern-reader manners but I just let the story flow and enjoy.  While I did work out the murderer it was still interesting to see what would happen with the main characters.  I found it enjoyable.

 

This could fall into Terrifying women and Murder most foul and I've used those.

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review 2017-09-22 01:47
Why shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer

I was worried that I wouldn't like this book because of my disastrous encounter with Venetia, one of Heyer's regency romances, but this was pretty good. 

 

Mr. Frank Amberley, a barrister visiting his relatives in the country, comes across a man shot dead in a parked car with a woman standing alongside whilst trying to following his cousin's poor directions for a short cut. He reports the murder but doesn't mention the woman because he strongly believes she didn't do it and doesn't trust the local constabulary not to try to pin it on her by mistake, apparently. You could easily accuse him of arrogance, I suppose, but he does seem to be a clever man.

 

This kicks off an amateur investigation where Amberley liaises with the police without telling them everything. I didn't guess the solution to the mystery although I had an inkling about part of it. I enjoyed the dialogue the most, I think. There was a lot of clever talking or whatever you want to call it, where characters don't exactly say what they mean but you follow along anyway, or characters mock each other without the author having to come out and say it. Or maybe others wouldn't say it was like that at all but I had fun with it regardless.

 

The last summing up chapter could have been a teensy bit shorter, but overall it was fun.

 

I read this for the "Terrifying Women" square for the Halloween Bingo but it could work equally well for "Murder Most Foul" and "Amateur Sleuth". It may work for "Country House Mystery" as well, although the number of suspects isn't quite as limited as some country house settings although you are still limited by being in the country.

 

Previous update:

52%

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text 2017-09-21 03:00
Reading progress update: I've read 52%.
Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer

When Fountain came in apologising for keeping his visitor waiting, he was turning over the pages of a dusty volume culled from the obscurity of a top shelf and said absently: ‘Not at all, not at all. I have been looking over your books. My dear sir, are you aware that they are all arranged according to size?’

This book has a kind of wry humour that amuses me. And we now have multiple amateur detectives acting at cross purposes.

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review 2017-09-03 20:03
My first filled square!
Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer

I had been sort of planning to use this one for the free square, but since OBD called 
"cozy mystery" this morning, and nothing could be cozier than this mystery, I can't resist actually filling a square!

 

I do prefer Heyer's regency romances to her mysteries. This one was more enjoyable than the other two that I've read, though, and reminded me a lot of an Agatha Christie. It's a solid three stars, with many of the usual cozy tropes.

 

The characters all initially appear to be the typical poisonous, grasping types that we see in this style of mystery. Ultimately, at least Stella and Randall end up having more there than meets the eye. There was a point in the book where I made the note "wanker" next to some of Randall's dialogue. By the end of the book, he had grown on me considerably.

 

And, as is often the case, the "victim" in this case ends up to be the worst of the lot.

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