by Georgette Heyer
published in 1942
The death of Adam Penhallow on the eve of his birthday seems, at first, to be by natural causes. He was elderly after all. But Penhallow wasn’t well liked. He had ruled over his estate with an iron will and a sharp tongue. He had played one relative off against another. He was so bad-tempered and mean that both his servants and his family hated him.
It soon transpires that far from being a peaceful death, Penhallow was, in fact, murdered. Poisoned. With his family gathered to celebrate his birthday, and servants that both feared and despised him, there are more than a dozen prime suspects. But which one of them turned hatred into murder?
This was definitely not what I expected from Georgette Heyer for a mystery. It is quite different from others I’ve read from her. It is 298 pages long and by the time I got to around page 150 and no murder yet, just nasty, unlikeable characters I told Bossman I think I might have to give up on this one. The only thing that kept me reading was the front page intro…
WE ARE BOUND TO SECRECY
The Central Situation,
The Plot Development,
The Astounding Solution of
Georgette Heyer’s Brilliant Thriller
are so fresh and unusual, so arresting to the mystery fan that we are pledged to reveal nothing in our promotional copy about this unique novel – other than this indisputable fact:
has never devised a puzzle so crafty,
an ending so unexpected.
When you finish reading the last page of
you will thank us for having kept our promise
The actual murder doesn’t take place until chapter sixteen which starts on page 191. We know right up front who does it. This is more a psychological thriller than a traditional mystery for sure. A character study of a very ugly, dysfunctional family. Honestly there wasn’t a pleasant thing or person in it. It’s dark, moody and unpleasant. I was left with a heavy, sad feeling.
Having said that, it was well written and the characters well drawn and delved into. I had a good time trying to determine who I thought was going to be the murderer if we ever got to the murder! Would I recommend it? Sure, just go into it knowing this is not the usual fare you expect from Heyer’s mysteries. I’d love to know what you think of it if you’ve read it or do read it.
This fulfills the ‘statue‘ category on the Gold Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt @ My Reader’s Block. That puts me at 9 on this card!