Monday, July 5, 2010
The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer
"A houseful of people he loathes is not Sir Arthurs's worst problem......
It should have been a lovely English country-house weekend. But the unfortunate guest-list is enough to exasperate a saint, and the host, Sir Arthur Billington-Smith, is an abusive wretch hated by everyone from his disinherited son to his wife's stoic, would-be lover. When Sir Arthur is found stabbed to death, no one is particularly grieved--and no one has an alibi. The unhappy guests find themselves under the scrutiny of Scotland Yard's cool-headed Inspector Harding, who has solved tough cases before--but this time, the talented young inspector discovers much more than he's bargained for." (from the publisher)
After reading a few of Heyer's Georgian and Regency romances this year, The Unfinished Clue was a very nice change of pace. I love a good mystery, and while this plot wasn't necessarily complex, it was a delightful glimpse into an English country-house weekend party...gone terribly wrong!
In this classic murder mystery set in the 1930's, Heyer introduces the reader to a cast of intriguing and colorful characters, from Fay, the fragile, long-suffering wife of the cantankerous Sir Arthur, to a disinherited son and Lola, his outrageous "exotic dancer" love interest. No one manages to escape the wrath of Sir Arthur, and when the host turns up dead, everyone begins looking suspiciously at the other. Sir Arthur tries to leave behind a clue to the identity of his murderer, but, alas, it is "unfinished."
Leave it to Heyer to blend not only sparkling dialogue and some comedic relief, but she expertly adds all those little details that paint a picture of an elegant, bygone era. (One of my favorite scenes includes the flirty Camilla, described as a corn-colored hair beauty, with scarlet lipstick and lacquer red fingernails, lounging on the terrace before the cocktail hour, (gasp) blowing smoke rings.)
Delightful and charming, all fans of Heyer should try a few of her mysteries.
FYI -- At the Georgette Heyer Tea sponsored by the Poisoned Pen Bookstore that I recently attended, I learned that the author actually pronounced her name more like "hay-er" or "hair" (not "higher"). I've been mispronouncing it all my life! Who knew?
Title: The Unfinished Clue
Author: Gerogette Heyer