When wealthy businessman Gregory Matthews is found dead in bed one morning, it is generally assumed that his heart gave out after a particularly rich roast duck the night before. But when it’s revealed that he was actually poisoned chaos ensues, and Superintendent Hannasyde must decide which of Matthews’ family would have wanted to murder him. Not an easy task, as they all had motive…and nobody in the family seems able to trust anybody else.
This is the first Georgette Heyer book I’ve read – it won’t be the last. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story, but more than that I liked the amusing and wit which the author uses throughout the story, especially to describe the various members of the Matthews’ family, with all their various idiosyncrasies. All of the characters were well described and I found myself plunged into the story from the first page.
My favourite characters were Stella (Matthews’ niece) and Randall, who while impertinent and naughty, provided a lot of entertainment throughout the story with his clever sarcasm and obvious disdain for most of the family.
I also really liked Inspector Hannasyde. This is not the first book by the author in which he appears, but I didn’t feel that it was necessary to have read any of the others before reading this one. So often in fiction, police characters seem to have marital problems, drink too much and argue with their superiors, and it was refreshing to read about an officer who seemed perfectly level headed and just wanted to get on with the job.
I thought I had worked out the ending about two thirds of the way through the book; I had got some elements right, but the ending itself was a surprise and I certainly could not have predicted it.
This book is both a police procedural set in the 1930s, and a gentle comedy centering on the dynamics of an unusual family. I enjoyed it immensely and will certainly be looking out for more books by Georgette Heyer.
(For more information about the author, please click here.)