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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
Footsteps in the Dark
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on 14 June 2016
I started reading Georgette Heyer books decades ago, and loved her regency romance novels. This is the first I have tried of the murder/mystery (or detective or thriller or whodunnit, call it what you will) genre, and I wasn't disappointed. It was also, in fact, the first of its kind that she wrote, published in 1932.

A family comprising a brother, two sisters, the husband of one, and an aunt, all move into the Priory, an ancient building inherited by the siblings. There they come up against all sorts of odd goings-on, which the locals blamed on the Monk, a ghostly figure said to haunt the Priory. There are many suspicious characters to ponder, including a mad, French artist, an elderly neighbour who thinks nothing of invading the property of others in the middle of the night to catch moths, and a particularly suspect young man by the name of Strange who regularly trespasses and tries to persuade them to leave. There were a couple of references to Mr Strange and his odd companion, which I found mildly amusing.

The young women were frightened by some of the events, but their menfolk and aunt were made of sterner stuff and were determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. The men armed themselves with revolvers, which appears to have been perfectly acceptable in those days, and gradually work their way through the mystery, finding priest-holes, hidden stairways, a cellar with a large stone entrance and, naturally, a skeleton along the way. All great fun, and highly recommended.

There was even a little romance. Two of the characters are attracted to each other in a polite, distant sort of way, and eventually the man takes the woman in his arms and kisses her. When they are interrupted (which is immediately), the young woman confidently announces that they are engaged to be married. Aw! Was life so simple back then? "I love everything that is old," famously said Oliver Goldsmith. "Old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine." I have to agree.
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2014
More in the Dorothy L Sayers and Boys' Own Adventure style than Agatha Christie, this thrill is very much of its time. What makes it stand out is the humour; Heyer wrote this book with her tongue very firmly in her cheek.

The haunted house background gives it some suitable creepy atmosphere and there are some chilling little scenes. I enjoyed the one where Mrs Bosanquet encounters The Monk for the first time. The skull on the stairs and the groaning secret door are also evoked with the right kind of frisson.

The main protagonists are all rather good eggs, and Celia is a somewhat annoying, wimpy female, typical of the genre, but they are all involving characters.

The village and the house are drawn with equal clarity. There is no vagueness of setting here.

It is a good detective yarn that passes away the time in pleasurable reading.

I miss the sharp detail of her historical novels, but it is a damn good read, old bean.
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on 2 July 2017
A classic cosy mystery from the Golden Age of crime writing (first published 1932), when vicar's wives arrived by bicycle and the village bobby summoned assistance by blowing his police whistle. Transparent plot and I was usually one jump ahead of the revelations of the twists, but a fun read all the same. Very English, but very light on description and heavy on dialogue, with a lot of banter, so it felt like listening to a jaunty radio play rather than reading a book, but good fun all the same, and I'll read more of her when I'm in the mood for something light, undemanding and nostalgic for one of my favourite eras.

The first Georgette Heyer novel I've ever read, to my shame, and I now see what all the fuss is about!
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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 29 October 2017
A pleasant, lightweight read,great for someone not normally into mysteries who wants something different. The characters are well portrayed, the story is fun, with a fair storyline. The ending fairly predictable, but my interest was still held throughout. If you like Miss Heyers period romances, this will make a pleasing read.
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on 6 March 2018
I really enjoyed this. From G. H. you expect a romantic Georgian novel, but this is set in the period between the wars, and is a crime novel. It does have a romantic ending, but one could spot that coming. Spotting the villain wasn't' difficult either, but very enjoyable as a light read.
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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 30 January 2018
I am a fan of Georgette Heyer but had not read that particular book. It is a slightly different detective novel from her usual but a good read.
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on 5 July 2015
Excellent book. Catching, funny and witty. Reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie's books, same animated characters, same sense of cynical humor. I highly recommend it to everyone who likes Agatha Christie or a good and simple detective story with a bit of mystery.
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on 22 September 2017
I have read this excellent detective book before but enjoyed it as much as ever, Georgette's books are among my favourites!
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