Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What I Read in November Part IV . . .

What I Read in November Part IV . . .

Death in the Stocks (Inspector Hannasyde, #1)Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer -- Historical Mystery

Arnold Vereker, a wealthy businessman, is found dead in the stocks in the village of Ashleigh Green, his weekend getaway, and no one much cares. His much younger half-sister Antonia, is the chief suspect, having spent the night alone in her brother's house unexpectedly and she was engaged to Arnold's employee, Rudolph Mesurier, whom Arnold loathed. If Tony didn't do it, surely her brother Kenneth, an eccentric artist did it. He claims he doesn't care about the money except that he's hard up right now. He just wants to go on being a bohemian artist and marry his fiance, Violet Williams. The rest of the family all hate Violet for being a gold digger. Tony's cousin Giles Carrington acts as solicitor and friend to his eccentric cousins and right hand man to the baffled Inspector Hannasyde who is on the case. When an unexpected person shows, another suspect is added to the growing list. Arnold was clearly murdered for his money but which one of them did it?

The mystery in this novel is engaging. The mystery is not as obvious as her Regency mystery type plots. I was certain I knew who the murderer was right away and then there were so many red herrings that I only figured it out just before the characters did. It came as a bit of a surprise but the clues were there. I had a hard time putting the book down but managed to make it last two nights. I enjoyed all the twists and turns but this is a very intellectual story and there isn't a lot of action. It's not a traditional murder mystery in that sense.

The writing style isn't bad but not as lively as her Regency novels. She inserts some period slang that is just as archaic as her Regency slang but readers familiar with the time period will recognize some of the words. (My favorite is "pimple"). I had no idea there were so many different ways of saying drunk in the 1930s. The contemporary 1930s setting is very much in evidence in this novel. It's a good thing they aren't American subject to Prohibition or the story would be a lot different and lose some of the color that makes it good.

The characters are unlikeable at first but they grow on you. Heyer seemed to have a set of stock characters to populate her mysteries and this unloving family is no different from the rest but they're a bit more eccentric and likeable once you get to know them. I did like Tony, being a fellow dog lover, I think we would get along. She's a bit impetuous but she's young. I liked her story though it seemed a little out of place. Her fiance Rudolph is not as likeable. He's weak and cowardly. He's hiding secrets but it quick to spill when confronted and is the most bizarre person of that sort I've ever encountered. Kenneth, Tony's brother, is the least likeable of the bunch. He's supposed to be an eccentric artist but I would label him as mad. He's temperamental and has really bad taste in art and women. His fiance Violet seems like a do-gooder but she has hidden depths that her fiance can not see. The other characters think she's a gold digger and that may be, but she's also struggling to get by during the Great Depression and she is engaged to Kenneth, who is not wealthy. I did really like the surprise character (who wasn't much of a surprise to the reader). He/She was charming and added some humor to the story. Giles is a good man but a little on the boring side. He doesn't have a larger-than-life personality like his cousins but I liked him.

This is the first of the Inspector Hannasyde mysteries and Inspector Hemingway makes an appearance too. Hannasyde didn't strike me as very bright but he has a wry sense of humor.

I liked this mystery the best of the three Heyer mysteries I've read but it doesn't compare with her Regency novels.

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