Thursday, 26 June 2014

'The Unfinished Clue' by Georgette Heyer (1934)

Synopsis: Dinah Fawcett decides to go to the countryside and pay her married sister Fay a visit, but as soon as she turns up at Fay's house she's certain that the weekend is going to be awful. The household is in turmoil. Fay is being bullied by her emotionally abusive husband Sir Arthur Billington-Smith. Dinah's brother-in-law has also invited a married couple called Basil and Camilla Halliday over so he can outrageously flirt with the pretty gold-digger Camilla and make her his mistress. There are other guests at the house too. Sir Arthur's nephew Francis has got himself into heavy debt and wants his uncle to pay it off. Stephen Guest is in love with Fay and is hoping that she'll work up the courage to leave her overbearing husband for him. Sir Arthur's son Geoffrey has brought his fiancée - a famous Mexican cabaret dancer called Lola de Silva - over to the house. Sir Arthur has never loved his son and is appalled by this match. There's the local Vicar and his wife and also a woman called Mrs Twining, a widow whom Sir Arthur has known for many years. The atmosphere at the house is extremely awkward and strained and on Monday afternoon Sir Arthur is found murdered in his study. Almost everyone at the house had a motive to kill Sir Arthur and no-one is much upset by his death. It's then up to Inspector Harding of Scotland Yard to sift through all of this discontent and work out which of the potential suspects is the murderer.

Georgette Heyer is best known for her numerous Georgian and Regency romance novels, but over the course of her career she also wrote 12 contemporary mystery novels in the style of Agatha Christie. So far I've read about half a dozen of Heyer's romance novels and The Unfinished Clue is my first mystery. This book is decent but nothing special. I can't think of very much I can say about it really. The mystery isn't particularly compelling and the reader isn't given enough information to solve the crime by themselves. There's also a romance subplot in this book which felt tacked-on and rushed. The Unfinished Clue worked better as a comedy-of-manners than it did as a mystery/detective novel. It was a quick, light read and it was quite funny in places. Lola and Francis get some very amusing one-liners. I'd still like to read some more of Heyer's mysteries but I'm not expecting them to match the quality of Heyer's best romance novels.

Rating: 3/5

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