January 4, 2010

Review of "Death in the Stocks" by Georgette Heyer

Synopsis:   A bobby on his night rounds discovers a corpse in evening dress locked in the stocks on the village green. Inspector Hannasyde is called in, but sorting out the suspects proves a challenge. Anyone in the eccentric, exceedingly uncooperative Vereker family had the motive and means to kill Andrew Vereker, who seemed to have been universally disliked. One cousin allies himself with the inspector, while the victim's half-brother and sister, each of whom suspects the other, markedly try to set him off the scent. To readers' delight, the killer is so cunning (not to mention the author), that the mystery remains until the very end…  (from Amazon)

This was my first Georgette Heyer novel and my first impression is that Ms. Heyer's mysteries read very similarly to Agatha Christie's.  And as a fan of Ms. Christie's stories, such a comparison is a compliment from this reader.

Ms. Heyer weaves an interesting and complex murder mystery, with a relatively small cast of characters, plenty of clues and, naturally, the obligatory red herring.  The victim is presented as a non-pleasant sort of man, with an excess of girlfriends and with plenty of reasons for someone to murder him.  Amid twists and turns, we are introduced to his half-brother, Kenneth, a somewhat lazy man who is most interested in the family fortune, half-sister Antonia who collects engagements and freely speaks her mind, cousin Giles Carrington, the Vereker family's solicitor, Violet Williams, Kenneth's fiancee, Leslie Rivers, who would be interested in being Kenneth's fiancee, Rudolph Mesurier, Antonia's latest fiancee and business colleague of the victim and faithful servant, Mergatroyd, who is always looking out for Kenneth and Antonia.

The best part of this mystery novel is the mystery.  No punches pulled, it's simply a good old fashioned mystery.  The author doesn't take the cheap or easy way out and no character does anything so outlandish or stupid that it ruins the story for you (a large pet peeve of mine).  "Death in the Stocks" has no offensive language.  No sex.  And while the story is about a murder, the violence level is fairly low, with nothing graphic or over the top. 

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, or a discriminating reader who chooses substance over froth, and are looking for more than just a flimsy beach read, Georgette Heyer and "Death in the Stocks"  is for you.  I would recommend this fun 1930s romp to mystery lovers alike. 

"Death in the Stocks" is available for purchase at all major bookssellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as from Sourcebooks' website. 

For information on author Georgette Heyer, go here

Many thanks to Danielle Jackson and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review


April (BooksandWine) said...

I read my first Christie the other day and am now craving some Georgette Heyer since I am seeing reviews for her all over the blogosphere.

Great job, I definitely will have to check out Death in the Stocks.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds fab. I want to read this.