Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer

Title:  Why Shoot a Butler?
Author:  Georgette Heyer
Genre:  Mystery
Pages:  329

Rating:  A-

Synopsis (from  Every family has secrets, but the Fountains' are turning deadly... On a dark night, along a lonely country road, barrister Frank Amberley stops to help a young lady in distress and discovers a sports car with a corpse behind the wheel. The girl protests her innocence, and Amberley believes her--at least until he gets drawn into the mystery and the clues incriminating Shirley Brown begin to add up...
In an English country-house murder mystery with a twist, it's the butler who's the victim, every clue complicates the puzzle, and the bumbling police are well-meaning but completely baffled. Fortunately, in ferreting out a desperate killer, amateur sleuth Amberley is as brilliant as he is arrogant, but this time he's not sure he wants to know the truth...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Why Shoot a Butler? was my first Georgette Heyer mystery, so I really didn't know what to expect when I started it.  Having only read Heyer's regency romances, I thought there was a good chance the story would have witty dialogue, lots of descriptions of people and places, and an interesting heroine.  I missed two out of three.  First, there's no heroine, but a "hero."  The main character of this story is Frank Amberley, a barrister/amateur sleuth with a smirking haughtiness that hides his intelligence and passion.  He actually reminds me of Sir Percy Blakeney, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel, except that Sir Percy uses humor and goofiness as a cover the way Amberley uses arrogance.

Secondly, the long descriptive passages that Heyer normally has in her romances are nonexistent here.  In this book, Heyer's main focus is not on the landscapes or what people are wearing, but on the mystery itself.  Her story is non-stop movement from beginning to end; there's no time to spend on descriptions.  The story may seem a little bare at times because of the lack of any involved details on the characters and their surroundings, but since the plot never really slows down, there isn't a lot of time to notice it. 

The one thing I did guess correctly was the dialogue.  It wouldn't be a Heyer book without amazing conversations and sarcasm.  Amberley's dialogue is sharp, witty, and biting.  His conversations with his uncle are hilarious, as his uncle doesn't always understand sarcasm.  But the best conversations are between Amberley and Shirley Brown, the possible "femme fatale."  She's not impressed with Amberley's wit, and has no problem telling him off.

As for the mystery itself, it was exciting and had the appropriate number of twists and turns, with a somewhat unexpected ending.  I admit that after reading a lot of mysteries (and watching a lot of crime shows), I've realized that it's never the obvious person you suspect, and therefore I'm not always surprised at the endings.  With this book, as I said, I was somewhat surprised because I had two guesses as to who the villain was, and one of them was right.  But I never guessed the motive or how the solution would unfold.  A-

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for commenting! I always appreciate reading what you have to say.