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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2001
I have long been a reader of Georgette Heyer's period romances and was surprised to learn she also wrote 'modern' (well 1920ish) crime novels. In my opinion this is the best of all her books.
With practically all her crime novels the most fascinating thing is not just who did it but how they did it. The method in this book isn't as ingenious as some of her other novels but I'd bet you never guess it.
The basic plot is that the obnoxious Gregory Matthews is dead but was he murdered or did he die of heart failure? If it was murder who did it? As in so many of these books, practically everyone has a motive for wanting him out of the way.
What places this book above so many similar ones are the wonderful characters from the oh-so saintly Zoe Matthews to her supercilious nephew Randall. I especially love Randall Matthews, described at one point as 'an amiable snake' - who says exactly what he pleases to everyone, especially his family.
If you like fiendishly clever plotting, a wonderful cast of characters and a practically unguessable ending then this is the book for you. If you have long been a fan of Heyer's romances and are unsure whether you'll like her crime novels let me reassure you they are just as amusing and charming as everything else she wrote.
This book is an absolute delight fom start to finish.
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on 8 May 2006
I'd never read a detective novel and picked this up by chance (the camp cover doesn't really match the plot). It's great fun, wonderfully written and is like reading a Sunday evening tv whodunnit. The sotry was written in 1936 and is set for the main part in a middle class family home. The characters are all interesting and many of them have a motive. You won't guess the ending but it is belivable!
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on 3 July 2016
I've been a fan of Georgette Heyer for many decades, but it is only recently that I've started reading her murder/mysteries. This is the second I have read, the other being Footsteps in the Dark, which I highly recommend.

By comparison, this took a a bit longer to get into, mainly because so many characters were thrown at the reader in the first few pages that for a while I found I was forgetting who was who. They were mainly relatives, with a smattering of domestic staff, a doctor and a couple of policemen thrown in. Everyone seemed very unpleasant, and no one seemed to like each other. There was a certain amount of rather mundane detective work going on, too.

That's all the down side. Then one character, Randall, quickly grew on me, mainly because he put me so much in mind of the Earl of Worth from "Regency Buck", one of my very favourite of Georgette Heyer's regency romances. And then his cousin, Stella, began to appear less obnoxious than the rest. The mystery grew, and in the end I found I couldn't put the book down.

And, finally, being Georgette Heyer, there was romance, so deliciously delicate as only she can make it, which I've now read three or four times, as I loved it so much. So a book that started three star, grew to four star and ended up a resounding five star. If you're a fan of any of her works, you will love this one.
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on 9 March 2015
Excellent entertaining mystery. Are the characters mostly rather flat? Yes, but not more so than many of the genre at that time, but with one character complex enough to perplex and a pleasantly engaging minor character in the form of a Detective Sergeant. Are there enough puzzles to keep even the most experienced of armchair sleuths guessing till almost the very end? Certainly.
If you enjoy the mystery crime genre popular in the early-mid 20th century but haven't yet discovered Georgette Heyer you have an ideal little wet weekend treat in store reading this or any of her other crime novels. If, like me, you are old enough to have read them long ago, and rather forgotten about them, then you will thoroughly enjoy becoming reacquainted. She's not quite in the same class as more literary writers of the period like Dorothy L Sayers or Michael Innes, nor do her books have the fiendish complexity of someone like Edmund Crispin, or the slightly unsettling atmosphere of Gladys Mitchell, but they are skilfully constructed and highly entertaining.
If you have been trying to read some of those awful pastiches aping the style of 'cosy' crime writers that are currently flooding Amazon and been — understandably — disappointed, give up and turn to this lesser-known but still vastly better Golden Age original. She's the real deal!
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on 14 December 2012
Georgette Heyer was `Queen of Crime' only to her hopeful publisher. She went into writing detective novels because there was money in it and her husband was studying for the bar. There was an insatiable appetite for crime fiction in the 1930s. The husband and his friends concocted the plots for her with characters A, B and C - more fun in the pub than dominoes.

She would have looked over the rival talent. She wouldn't go head-to head with the conscious fine-writing and well-displayed erudition of Sayers. Her own education had been cut off short: like E L Wistey she didn't have the Latin for the judgin' (many years later, though, she wrote an accomplished romance in the Sayers mode, with all the literary allusions and sympathetic weather you could desire, but no lapses into crass sentimentality. It is called `Venetia') but she must have decided that, since she was a better writer than Marsh or Christie, she could knock up an acceptable murder-book with one hand tied behind her back.

Sadly, however, she really did have one hand tied behind her back: she was not in love with the genre. Notoriously, when she was well on the way through one of her whodunnits, she asked her husband to remind her `how this murder was actually committed'.

And she made a great big huge mistake, all the more surprising because she, of all people, made it. In a genre dominated by the gentleman-sleuth and the flamboyant foreigner she chose to make her detectives humdrum working policemen. Hello? She probably never went on the Clapham Omnibus in her life. She was not gregarious, and the mind of her own cleaner was a mystery to her. The would-be barristers in the pub (knowing much about the courts and the police) doubtless thought it would be a nice breakthrough idea to have real plods solving the crimes - as they do - but Hannasyde, Hemingway & co are just plot-moving machines, still as cardboard as when they were first put on paper.

What did interest Heyer is the young man with the long eyelashes who appears in several of the stories, with various names. When he wanders into the scene, snotting some and winding others up, the writing begins to sparkle as it should. He might be Randall the dandy or Neville the wandering scruff (I'd have him, if only once) but he is everything a golden age fictional detective should be: the educated outsider, the too-clever misanthrope, who might well have dunnit and, in one of the stories, diddit.

`Behold, Here's Poison' is possibly Heyer's most successful detective novel. It works partly because (as in `The Quiet Gentleman' and `The Toll Gate') the love story weighs heavily in the balance. But it's also a pretty piece of crime fiction, tightly worked out to the end. It puts some of Christie's plotting to shame. As love stories with a bit of murder on the side go `A Blunt Instrument' is even better. There are another couple that are well worth a read.

I suppose one should be grateful that Heyer did put out a slim few respectable whodunits along with her peerless romances but a reader is never grateful. We want a dozen Dirk Gentlys. We want Talleyman in India (along with any other mad stuff John James might have been contemplating). If Ms Heyer ended up in Purgatory I hope she wrote her way out with thirteen Plenmeller Mysteries - and I can peruse them in the afterlife.
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Gregory Matthews is found dead in bed. His doctor thinks he's probably died of a heart attack and is prepared to sign a death certificate to that effect until Gertrude - the deceased's sister insists on the death being reported to the coroner. All the members of Gregory's family have a possible motive for murdering someone who turns out to be thoroughly obnoxious.

This is an ingenious story which will keep you guessing right until the end. The nature of the poison is revealed very early on and there are many red herrings cleverly planted. How the poison was administered is not revealed until the very end of the book and I doubt most readers will guess the method. Scotland Yard is on the trail in the phlegmatic person of Superintendent Hannasyde and his sidekick Sgt Hemingway, but at first it seems as though the case may defeat them.

This book is well written and the characters are believable. There are enough suspects to keep most readers guessing and there is no on the page violence - which makes a refreshing change in the 21st century where violence sells. It was written in the 1930s but is still very readable today. Heyer's detective novels stand comparison with the best of the Golden Age writers - Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham - and if you like them you will like this book.
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on 28 March 2009
Georgette Heyer A Blunt instrument

Story well developed. No obvious clues given in early chapters.
Although a murder story, she does not make a feature of gory detail.Nearly sll the characters have motives, but the climax is woven in near the end.
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on 6 April 2014
Vintage Heyer, with the usual collection of characters (including the smooth, clever, idle male who is always a strong suspect). The denouement is perhaps less than satisfying, but it is never less than an entertaining read.
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on 5 January 2015
A really good plot . The writing is very dated, and seems very old fashioned by todays standards. but I enjoyed it, very cleverly plotted I look forward to reading More from this writer
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on 18 November 2013
A good detective story from a master story teller once again.I enjoyed immensely the story and was kept interested up to the end .A good detective book. Thoroughly enjoyable once again.
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