by Georgette Heyer,
Arrow Books, 2006 (copyright 1935)
I always thought of Heyer as a romance author, but when it came to my attention that she'd written some mysteries, I decided to give one a try. Death in the Stocks appears to be the first in the Inspector Hannasyde series, and what a mystery it is, though I did crack the case well before the author concluded it.
When playboy and businessman Arnold Vereker is found dead in the stocks on a village green, it's a great shock to the local bobby, who has never before had to deal such a serious crime. After going to Vereker's cottage and meeting the victim's careless half-sister, it's no doubt a relief to pass the case on to his superiors.
Enter Hannasyde, a Superitendant from New Scotland Yard. Calm, cool, and logical, nothing could have prepared him for the Vereker relations who, except for their cousin and legal representative Giles Carrington, are a bunch of eccentric, unlikable, and corrupt individuals. Uncertain and distrustful of one another, they seem to think the murder is a game and one of their own its chief participant. Indeed they make it difficult not to suspect them of either acting alone or in collusion, and for the most part, the reader could care less about what happens to any of them.
The New York Times is quoted on the book's cover, "Rarely have we seen humour and mystery so perfectly blended." I don't know about that, but at the end of the day - thanks largely to Hannasyde and Carrington - the fact is I rather enjoyed the mystery. I think I am getting into these older British whodunits, and as the contemporary authors I enjoy don't write fast enough to keep up with me, it's good to discover "new" talent.