This novel begins, as so many British cozy mysteries do, with an awkward weekend at an English country house. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith is a tyrannical husband and father with a terrible temper; therefore, he is less than thrilled when several unexpected guests arrive for the weekend. All the guests dislike Sir Arthur, but since he also happens to be quite wealthy, they are hoping to manipulate him into giving them money. Naturally, Sir Arthur is murdered during the course of the house party, and Inspector Harding of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate. He soon finds that nearly everyone has a motive, but there is a dismaying lack of evidence that any one suspect committed the crime.
I absolutely love Georgette Heyer! I’ve read all her Regency-era romances and am now making my way through her mysteries. As a mystery, I have to say that this book is fairly average. Many of the characters seem two-dimensional and could be found in any number of mysteries from this period: the long-suffering wife, the lively young sister-in-law, the disappointing son, the unworldly vicar, and the sharp-tongued vicar’s wife. Still, Georgette Heyer’s snappy dialogue and characteristic hint of romance made this a fun read for me. I even appreciated the meticulous nature of Inspector Harding’s investigation; I never found myself thinking that the police were jumping to conclusions or overlooking evidence, they way they so often seem to do in mystery novels. All in all, if you’re a fan of Golden Age mysteries, I definitely recommend Heyer’s books.