Sunday, April 24, 2011

Behold, Here's Poison

 When Gregory Matthews was found dead in his bed one morning, most of his family thought it was due to blood pressure and over-eating. The doctor was even willing to sign off on the death certificate....but then Matthews' meddling sister takes one look at the corpse and decides she's not satisfied. What a surprise for the family to find out that it wasn't the roast duck that did Gregory in, but a dose of nicotine poisoning. Now it's up to Inspector Hannasyde and Sergeant Hemingway to get to the bottom of the family secrets.

Gregory Matthews, true to crime fiction form, was one of those crusty, difficult men who liked having power over his relations. So, everyone in the house had a reason to be glad that the old man was out of the way. Everyone from Guy, his nephew, who most certainly did not want to be shipped off to South America to Stella, his niece, who didn't like being told that she couldn't marry the doctor. Even Gregory's sisters will find the house a little easier to manage without his demanding ways.

Behold, Here's Poison follows in the Heyer mystery tradition--lots of alibis, a bickering family, an unlikeable main character who just happens to turn into the romantic lead. It's all here. Most of the time, that's a good thing--and this is noted as being one of Heyer's most popular detective novels. I'm not sure if I'm feeling a little more picky because of surgery or what--but this time it didn't go over quite as well for me. The bickering in the opening chapters seems a little too strident to me. The sudden transformation of the unlikeable main character was just that--too sudden. Heyer generally does this sort of thing well, so you might take my rating with a grain of salt. The best part of the novel for me was when Hannasyde and Hemingway showed up. I enjoy their characters very much and the dialogue and interactions with them was bang on target. Two and a half stars.


Sherrie said...

Hi Bev,
Wanted to let you know I've finished another book for the Vintage Mystery Challenge. Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Have a great day!

Just Books

J F Norris said...

You'd think I'd gobble up Heyer's books, but for some reason I haven't been able to finish the last three I started. DEATH IN THE STOCKS was way too arch for me and that "bright young thing" characters really grated on me. Must've been in a foul mood that month. The only one I've managed to read from start to finish is A BLUNT INSTRUMENT because it was listed on one of those all time great mystery novel lists I've run across. And then I thought the solution was obvious the moment the body was discovered so I didn't return to her for many years. I'll try her again, but I don't know... Which is your favorite? If I have it (most likely :^D), I'll tackle that one.

J F Norris said...

Just saw your surgery update. Glad that it went well. I'm sure you're relieved it's over. Here's to a speedy recovery and - if you celebrate it - Happy Easter!

Bev Hankins said...

Happy Easter to you, too, John. My favorite Heyer mysteries are Why Shoot a Butler? and, actually, Death in the Stocks. A Blunt Instrument is a good one too. I know she's kind of obvious, but I think she's fun when you're in the mood for that sort of thing.