Wednesday, November 9, 2011

They Found Him Dead: Review

Even at sixty, Silas Kane is not going to let a little fog keep him from his regular nightly walk before bedtime. A family celebration of his sixtieth birthday may have tired him a bit, but he still needs his constitutional to help him sleep. When morning comes and there is no Silas and his bed has not been slept in, a search is made and he is found dead at the bottom of the cliffs near his home. A verdict of death by misadventure is brought in....with the blame falling on the foggy night.

But then Clement Kane, the heir who has barely had time to settle into the family home, is shot to death and people begin to wonder if there may have been more to Silas's death than met the eye. The local police call on Scotland Yard to investigate and Superintendent Hannasyde comes to sort things out with the help of Sergeant Hemingway. There is no shortage of motives--from the wife and her lover to the business partners desperate to settle a deal to the next heir apparent. But then Jim Kane, next in line for the family fortune, falls victim to several "accidents." Is someone intent on knocking out the entire Kane family? It's up to Hannasyde and Hemingway to find out before it's too late.

This one was even better than its "sequel" Duplicate Death. Here we have the much younger "Terrible Timothy" Harte--half-brother to Jim Kane and a keen amateur detective. Timothy is sure from the beginning that there are foul deeds afoot and declares early on that Uncle Silas has been murdered. It isn't until late in the game that anyone takes him seriously. Of course, one can hardly blame is hard to take a fourteen-year-old, gangster film enthusiast seriously when he seems to be seeing bad guys behind every bush.

The dialogue sparkles. It is witty and the characters are great. They are, as is quite usual with Heyer, somewhat stereotypical, but when handled well (and they are here) they make for some very fun Golden Age shenanigans. And it is very enjoyable to watch the early interactions of Hemingway and Timothy--particularly knowing how they get on in the later book. Plenty of red herrings to go 'round and a slight twist at the end makes for good reading. Four stars.

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