Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
All great fun and highly recommended.
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.