By Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2010. 396 pgs. Mystery
Fans of Heyer’s historical romances may be interested to learn that she also wrote mysteries. Set in early 20th century England, the setting and characters are permeated with period dialog and descriptions, just as readers of her romances have come to expect. Here, Uncle Joseph is throwing a Christmas party, inviting the whole family with all of their quarrels and discontent. The first third of the book solely describes the festivities and family dynamic; the victim and detective aren’t even revealed until after page 100. Though this may be strange for a mystery book, it makes for excellent reading as the reader gets to experience the British culture of the time and try their own hand at guessing who might be the murderee and murderer.
Though second in the series about amiable detective Hemingway, this particular book is perfect for the holidays even if you haven’t read the first. Taking place over the days surrounding Christmas, the book involves familiar family fights, awkwardness, and cheer; but all in a pleasant British background. Though I wouldn’t consider myself to have a huge amount of experience with mysteries, I liked how the solution of this one involved psychology as opposed to some detective trick or accidental discovery. Even a seasoned reader will have trouble picking out the killer, yet by the end will wonder how they could have missed it.