REVIEW: Death In The Stocks – Georgette Heyer
I started reading on the Kindle mid last year, when my weak, child-wrists and their brittle sparrow bones proved unequal to the task of propping up Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. No regrets, of course.
Upshot is though, I’ve not touched my TBR paperback pile for over six months. Until now! And so, here’s a Georgette Heyer mystery I’ve had for 7 years!
So, this paperback, physical book thing… How do I read while eating lunch!? How do I read while using hands for other domestic tasks?!
Oh, but the feel of the paper, though. The gentle strain on my weak wrists. The option of hurling it at people who won’t stop talking to me while I’m trying to read.
If you’re remotely into historical romance, chances are you’ve read some Heyer, for all that some can be a difficult read these days. Death in the Stocks was the first crime novel of hers I’ve read, however.
“Beneath a sky the colour of sapphires and the sinister moonlight, a gentleman in evening dress is discovered slumped in the stocks on the village green – he is dead. Superintendent Hannasyde’s consummate powers of detection and solicitor Giles Carrington’s amateur sleuthing are tested to their limits as they grapple with the Vereker family – a group of outrageously eccentric and corrupt suspects”
If you like Jeeves and Wooster, I reckon you’ll like this. There’s a very similar tone and the Verekers, the family around whom suspicion of the murder centres, have that same sort of basic stupidity as Bertie Wooster and his friends. It’s almost irritating at times, but I couldn’t help but be entertained.
“You were angry enough to write a letter telling your half brother that it would give you great pleasure to wring his neck-“
“Bloody neck,” corrected Kenneth.
“Yes, his bloody neck is the term you used. You felt strongly enough to write it, and then forgot all about it?”
“No, I forgot I’d written it,” said Kenneth. “I didn’t forget that I wanted to wring his neck. My memory’s not as bad as that.”
Our main suspects are bull-terrier breeder Antonia (Tony) Vereker and her artist brother Kenneth, both of whom have beef with the deceased, their wealthy and unpleasant half brother. They make no secret of their joy at his demise, and aren’t really bothered by being suspects, except for finding it something of an inconvenience that the police keep popping round unannounced.
I suppose this falls into the cosy category of mysteries, and it’s definitely the fluffy end of the murder scale. It’s hardly a brain teaser and I think the “whodunnit” aspect is a pretty easy solve. Don’t read it for the mystery, read it for the japes. While I wouldn’t want to be the Vereker’s downstairs neighbours, I wouldn’t mind going to one of their parties.
Have you read any of Heyer’s mysteries? I’ve still got Penhallow on my bookshelf, which I’ll probably dig out next time I need a bit of light-hearted escape. That’s likely to be soon, since we’re about to enter the terrifying realms of buying a property…