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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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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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on 9 January 2017
A wonderful romp! The plot and the detecting are absurd and wouldn't fool the modern reader for a moment. Perhaps they never would have. Read it for the clever repartee and one or two nicely creepy moments, then break out the ginger beer.
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on 19 June 2017
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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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on 10 January 2013
This book tries to be amusing and in a way it is with Woosterish characters and improbable haunted house. I had to force myself to finish it because I don't like to be defeated by an author I have enjoyed. A lightweight read probably best skimmed at speed...
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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 25 February 2017
A good intro to GH's crime stories style. Well placed in the period, as a fan I gave read thus umpteen times and it never fails to delight.
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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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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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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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