Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a review of Why Shoot A Butler?

Why Shoot A Butler? by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1402217951)

Now, if you read my two recent reviews of the Daphne du Maurier books, you will know that I had heard of her, but had not read any of her books. A new, excellent, enjoyable writer found!

And now, also from the kind folks at Sourcebooks, a very nice little cozy English country house mystery from Georgette Heyer. Not only had I not read anything by Heyer before, but I can't say that I had actually heard of her. But, I will admit it, I am a sucker for a nice English mystery. From what I have read, it seems she is better known for her Regency romances (not really my cuppa tea) but she also wrote a number of mysteries, and judging from this one, I will be checking out some more of them in the future. If you are a fan of this genre, something in the Agatha Christie family, you will to well to join me.

The story opens with our hero, the barrister Frank Amberley, lost in the countryside, attempting to find his uncle's house where he is visiting for the weekend. He happens upon a car, pulled over at the side of the deserted road, and a pretty young woman standing by the car. Gentleman that he is, he stops to see if he can be of assistance..and finds a recently shot and deceased man in the car and a young woman with a very feeble explanation of what she is doing there. Turns out the dead man is the butler of one of his uncle's neighbors and really, why would anyone shoot the butler. Well, you will have to read the book to find out now, won't you! As Frank says, the murder is the least of the mysteries.

Again, as with du Maurier, this book really excels in the dialogue. Amberley refers to himself as the rudest man in London, and with some cause, and I find him totally wonderful because of it. His banter with the cast of characters, especially the police who take him on as an unofficial detective on the case, is one of the strengths of the book. Honestly, the mystery was a little weak...it must have been because I figured it out and some of the characters are a little undeveloped, but it is still a very enjoyable read. I love a nice mystery, set in the 30's in a country manor house, with servants lurking about, listening behind the doors and chases across the countryside.
As to the comparison with Christie, while there are some similarities, Christie is the queen and while quite good, Heyer, at least in this book, is not quite up to her standards. But still, a recommendation, if you are up for a clever, witty romp, the whole upstairs/downstairs thing going on, with even a touch of a romance thrown in.

Another word about this edition. I know I might be sounding like a broken record, but what can I do? I just want to mention that as with the du Maurier books, I love these editions re-issued by Sourcebooks. The covers are excellent, really capturing the feel of each book, and while I am not usually a fan of paperbacks, these are an exceptions, they have such a nice, quality feel and look.

5 comments:

  1. I had never heard of this author, or read anything she had written. But Iliana from a Bookgirl's Nightstand (I think it was her! I can't remember anything.) just mentioned two of Heyer's mysteries. I've already made a note to myself on this series!!

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  2. I didn't know Heyer wrote mysteries in addition to her romance novels. I've never read any of those - not my cuppa, either. But this one sounds like something I'd like to check out. Nice review.

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  3. The Heyer romances don't appeal to me either, but this book sounds like a lot of fun!

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  4. You have something waiting for you at my blog :)

    http://desertrosebooklogue.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-lovely-blog-award-2.html

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  5. I haven't read anything by Heyer, but this sounds like a good place to start.

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