Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Shoot a Butler?, by Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler?
By Georgette Heyer

Shall we be murdered, Frank? I thought these things didn't happen.

I have to admit that I was very reluctant to try a Georgette Heyer novel, even after I realized that she'd written a number of mysteries that seem to be rather well-respected. My only prior experience with Heyer are her romance novels, which were quite popular with my mother and grandmother and which I wouldn't have touched with the proverbial ten-foot pole.

It appears that Heyer wrote about a dozen crime novels in all. This is the second of them. As it opens barrister Frank Amberley is on his way to the family mansion when he comes across the butler from a nearby mansion, shot dead in a car and with a young woman standing in the road nearby. Well, the plot thickens, as they invariably do, and a few more stiffs pile up along the way. Amberley, a somewhat arrogant and not so likeable sort, works more or less in concert with the local police, though he obviously feels that he's in another league altogether.

Of course, it's all sorted out in end, but unless I missed some key points along the way, I'd say that this one is insufficiently clued to let even the most perceptive reader in on the secrets that are eventually revealed. Not that I'm the most perceptive reader and in fact I'm probably down at the other end of the scale when it comes to picking up on subtle details and whatnot.

My other quibble with this one, and it's something I've harped on before, is that it's just too long. While there are undoubtedly mystery novels that need almost 300 pages to adequately tell their story this is not one of them. It could probably have benefited from a judicious editor hacking loose a hundred pages or so.

All in all not such a bad experience as the foregoing might have suggested, but I probably won't be seeking out any more Heyer books in the near future.

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