Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a review of "No Wind of Blame"

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer
(Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1-4-22-1801-9)

During her lifetime, Heyer was better known for her Regency romances than her mysteries and that may still be true today. But if you are a fan of clever stories, with excellent dialogue and an amusing cast of characters in an English country house setting and have not checked out the dozen or so of her mysteries, you really owe it to yourself to do so. And happily, you have the very nice editions, reissued by Sourcebooks, to make it an even more attractive prospect.

In No Wind of Blame, we are in the English countryside of the late 1930's, in the lovely estate of Ermyntrude Carter. Ermyntrude was on the stage as a young woman and inherited the impressive house and her fortune from her first, beloved husband. Sadly, her second marriage, to the ner'do-well Wally, is not quite so beneficial. It seems he has found a number of seedy ways to spend her money, including gambling, wine, women and song and maybe a shady business dealing or two. His activities have drawn the displeasure of many in the neighboring community beside his wife. Those that care for Ermyntrude, including her daughter from her first marriage, Vicky, several admirers, including a very questionable Russian prince and even Mary, Wally's cousin and ward have their issue with Wally. And that just scrapes the surface of the suspects. Yes, suspects, because Wally will be shot to death as he crosses the estate and so starts the mystery, a mystery full of twist and turns, red herrings galore, a big and lively cast of characters and a nice dash or two of romance to top it all off before coming to a logical and satisfactory conclusion.

Certainly Heyer's books will remind you of Agatha Christie's to a degree, although I don't honestly remember Christie being quite so funny. Heyer is often very amusing and her excellent dialogue is really the high point of the book. At times, granted, it can make for some rather slow going because you really have to pay attention to what is being said, but you will be rewarded if you do. I will also warn you that the first quarter of so of the book may seem rather slow, because it takes a fair bit of talking to acquaint us with a rather large cast, most of whom will soon be suspects. But once poor Wally gets himself killed, things start to pick up, especially with the arrival of the witty Inspector Hemingway from Scotland Yard.

I also must mention, as I do with all the Sourcebooks editions, that I just love the look and feel of these books. I am not usually a big fan of paperbacks but these are an exception. Attractive covers and a clean, nice feel making for a pleasant reading experience, not something to be ignored.

If you are a mystery fan, especially of the witty, clever English country house sort, you do really owe it to yourself to check out No Wind of Blame. As Dorothy L. Sayers, quoted on the back cover of the book says,
“Miss Heyer's characters and dialogue are an abiding delight to me...I have seldom met people to whom I have taken so violent a fancy from the word 'Go”.”

My thanks to Danielle of Sourcebooks for this copy.


  1. I've stayed away from Heyer's work because I thought all she wrote was romance. You've piqued my interest.

  2. This sounds wonderful,just my cuppa! English and a mystery, gets no better than that. I got Death in the Stocks by Heyer from Danielle. I hope it's as good as this one sounds. Hopefully, I'll get to it as soon as I get home from MA. I'll wave to you from the GS pkwy.

  3. Kathy, I have not read any of Heyer's romances, which were, as I said, much more popular than the mysteries when she published them. they out sold the mysteries like 10 to one.
    but I am not a fan of the romances...

    Kaye, I am only a couple of miles from the GSP..exit 36. wave and I will see

  4. What an enticing review! I read two of her romances and found them charming - and as you mentioned, funny. I will have to look for it at the library for my post-holiday crash. :)


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