Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 2009 (reprint), Sourcebooks, originally 1935
I have been steadily reading Heyer books (with great delight) since I discovered her a few years ago. She has a huge backlist, which consists of historical romances, mysteries, and historical fiction. The romances, of course, are my favorites -- but I'm running out of new ones to read! So, I picked up this mystery when I saw the pretty re-issued edition by Sourcebooks.
Andrew Vereker is found dead, his corpse carefully arranged so he's sitting in the stocks on the green of some little English village. The police soon have more suspects than they can handle: the nephew who is heir to Vereker's fortune, a corrupt employee who was cooking the books, a mysterious stranger who was seen fighting with Vereker before his death. Everyone seems to be lying about where they were the night of the murder, and everyone seems to have hated the deceased.
I was sadly disappointed by this book. For one thing, I totally guessed who "done it" really early in the book, which either means I'm really clever or it was obvious. I think it's the latter, because I never know who the murderer is when reading mysteries. I'm nearly always surprised in the end. My second reason for not liking the book: I found all the characters extremely annoying. They struck me as lazy, spoiled, selfish, snobby upper-class Brits and I didn't like them. A couple of people grew on me toward the end, but it was waaaay too long coming.
The only saving grace for me was the intelligent, witty dialogue, which is classic Heyer. I'm undecided whether I want to try any more Heyer mysteries. Anyone have any advice? There are a couple of her romances that I haven't read yet -- will definitely have to track them down.