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4.4 out of 5 stars51
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 August 2001
One of the best crime novels I have read and the finest of Georgetter Heyer's crime novels. Set in a sleepy village in the English countryside, everything is not as it seems. Ruins, ghosts and inadequate but likeable local police all come to the fore in this gripping tale. Emminently readable and superbly written, this book will have you peering over your shoulder in to the shadows. One of the best stories Mrs Heyer ever concocted, and of course written in her own inimitable style, with plenty of wit and dry humour. Once you start, you will have difficulty in putting it down.
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on 29 January 2008
Four young people have inherited a large old house just outside an English country village. Previous owners have not stayed in the house for long; and locals refuse to enter the grounds at night. There is even talk of a ghostly monk who haunts the grounds - classic stuff! Naturally, the new owners dismiss the stories as superstition at first. But then the spooky happenings begin, and they are at first annoyed, and then unnerved, as seriously scary stuff starts to happen. This is a most enjoyable read, which sent a huge shiver down my spine a couple of times. It does have the requisite murder, but this is only a small part of the mystery. The novel was written in the early 1930's, so don't expect any racy stuff - I think it is all the more charming for this though.

Update - review for the audiobook version, read by Ulli Birve. A demonstration of how to trash a good book by choosing the wrong narrator.
1) Choose a non-native who can't "do" the accents required in the story.
2) Make her try really, really hard to grind out an upper class English accent from the 1930's, no matter how excruciatingly stilted the results become.
3) Allow the accents of other minor characters (the vicar for example), to roam wildly across Britain, Ireland and Europe within the same speech.
Results - the light and easily flowing fun and chills in the novel are lost in a woeful performance that is painful to listen to. Try as you might to ignore the way it's being read and get into the story, you just can't do it! The only time that it wasn't awful to listen to was when she forgot what she was doing and lapsed into her own accent, which sounded like New Zealand, or Australia. There are other Heyer mysteries in audio form which are a good listen, but this one takes the prize for the worst read audiobook that I have listened to. 0 stars.
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on 19 August 2008
I have just finished reading this book and have only just come back to Georgette Heyer's novels, having not read them since I was a very young woman. I really liked this good, wholesome, old-fashioned detective story. For the duration of the story I felt as if I was living alongside the characters who had inherited an old country house and was helping them to solve the deepening mystery of the 'haunting monk'. If you like detective novels set in the early 1900's this one will not disappoint you. I wouldn't say this novel is spellbound and I did predict who the villian was before the end of the book but it does take you back in time and is a very pleasant read indeed.
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Margaret, Peter and Celia inherit an old house - The Priory - in a sleepy village. The brother and sisters decide to take up residence there for a while together with their Aunt Lilian and Celia's husband Charles. There is no electricity and the place is overgrown and reputed to be haunted by a black monk. But they are rational people and quite frankly do not believe in the supernatural. They quickly settle in to the local community and like - or dislike - the local residents including an eccentric neighbour who roams their grounds at night looking for moths. Then there are two suspicious characters staying at the local inn apparently on holiday and the owner of the inn who is determined to convince them of the existence of the ghost.

With so many warnings about the dangers of remaining at the priory from so many different people, some, at least of the visitors start to wonder what is going on. Then the strange noises start and the spooky happenings such as a skull suddenly appearing out of a hidden cupboard and pictures falling off the wall and there are many discussions about returning to the safety of London. As ever with Georgette Heyer's novels the characters are believable and interesting - not to say eccentric. The dialogue is realistic and humorous at times and the plot is complex. Is the house really haunted - or is that what they're meant to think? Why did more than one person make enquiries about buying the house even though it is not for sale?

This is an entertaining read with a tightly plotted mystery at its core as well as a marvellously atmospheric house which is a character in its own right. I really enjoyed it and I think it is one I shall re-read many times.
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on 10 October 2008
This was my first Georgette Heyer so I didn't know what to expect. I certainly wasn't disappointed. On the whole she delivers a thoroughly enjoyable spine-tingler, with an authentically unnerving atmosphere and more than one hair-raising moment to make your flesh creep. At first the main characters all seemed to be fairly stereotypical 1930's aristocratic types and I wasn't too sure how I would engage with them, but as the story unfolded, laced with a good helping of humour, I was soon totally caught up in their world. This was incredibly easy to read, with the emphasis more on mystery than murder (although there is a murder). If you love the idea of good old-fashioned amateur sleuths on the trail of ghostly monk in a haunted house, you will love this.
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on 5 April 2013
I personally love Georgette Heyer and in particular the humour in her stories. An excellent light read and in particular for those who like murder mysteries. It's a shame she didn't write more bookes in this genre but concentrated on historical romances of which I have read every single one. Brilliant.
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on 2 December 2012
This story was brilliant and I loved every bit of it. The hauntings of this book were very well written. I found it very gripping, but I wasn't having nightmares about it.

This story is about an old building which used to be a Monastry, but is now owned privately by two sisters and a brother and brother-in-law. Things start to go bump in the night, somebody is murdered and eventually you find out that there is more going on than a few bumps in the night and has rather far reaching consequences for the owners.

Great book that hold your attention and with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Would recommend.
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on 21 January 2013
This was the first book that I have read by Georgette Heyer, and it won't be the last. It was such fun, it was like Scooby Doo, but for adults. You have a group of people who inherit this old house, and from very early on it is clear that there is something up. Are there ghosts? Or is someone trying to scare them away from the house? It has all the essential ingredients, a secret passage, bones that suddenly fall out of old panelled cupboards, people who disappear while in their own house, and strange noises in the night. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of the murder mystery books by this writer.
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on 1 March 2009
This story is typical of Georgette Heyer. Immaculate manners, a little mystery and lots of humour. Guessing who the "ghost" is ,is lots of fun and keeps you reading until your guesswork is confirmed.
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on 20 November 2012
An old priory, a ruined chapel, underground passages and an elusive monk haunting the library provide a deliciously spooky beginning to a classic and thoroughly enjoyable whodunnit. Georgette Heyer's characters do seem a little stilted in this book, but that may be due to the period in which she was writing, when formalised behaviour, even in private, was the norm. Not a book to challenge Agatha Christie, who was writing at the time same, but nevertheless, an enjoyable read provided one isn't too critical.
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