Sunday, February 7, 2010
Review: They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
The bodies pile up right from the start in this delightful, fast-paced 1930's British murder mystery.
As an avid Regency fan, I know and love Miss Heyer's historical romances. But I had no idea she also wrote contemporary mysteries. Contemporary, that is, when she wrote them in the 1930's. I love British mysteries from that period--art deco furniture and decorations, sleek, romantic clothes, and dialog chock-full of the idioms of the day.
The "Him" of the title is Mr. Silas Kane, patriarch of the wealthy Kane family and senior partner in the firm of Kane and Mansell. The story opens at Silas's sixtieth birthday party, introducing us to the eccentric cast of characters and the story setup when Silas refuses to do business with an Australian firm his partner, Joe Mansell, champions.
The next day, Silas is found dead, apparently having tumbled off a cliff on his nightly walk. An accident, surely. The firm, and the disagreement, passes to his nephew, Clement, who welcomes his uncle's fortune so that he can pamper his spoiled wife, Rosemary. Alas, Clement's riches last only a short time, because, in a matter of days, he is found shot to death in Silas's library. Murder is definitely in the picture now, and the local police summon a Scotland Yard superintendent to untangle the case.
Who murdered Clement? Was Silas also murdered? Suspicion falls on everyone from Silas's starchy mother, Emily, to her self-contained companion, Patricia, to her grand-nephew, Jim, who is Patricia's fiancee and now the senior partner in the company. Other suspects include Trevor, Rosemary's oily would-be lover, the Mansells, father and slippery son, and even Oscar, the genial representative of the Australian firm. About the only person not suspected is Jim's half-brother, fifteen-year-old Timothy, who has overdosed on American gangster films and "helps" the police, thereby earning the nickname of "Terrible Timothy". (Hint, one of the suspects listed here is the murderer.)
The story is a fast read, funny, and I didn't figure out the murderer until Miss Heyer revealed the culprit at the end.
All in all, a highly enjoyable read, and a book I couldn't put down. I look forward to reading Miss Heyer's other mysteries.
Thank you all,
P.S. Sourcebooks provided the ARC of They Found Him Dead.