Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Shoot The Butler? by Georgette Heyer

It does not happen often that I discover an author I had not heard of before and become an instant fan of that author’s writing with the very first book. It does however happen, infrequent as it may be. And so was the case with Georgette Heyer. I have first heard of her Regency novels but have not yet had the chance to read any of them. I instead decided to try out her mysteries first. I fell under Heyer’s spell with Behold, Here’s Poison, I remained under that spell while reading The Unfinished Clue and now Why Shoot The Butler? confirmed my belief that Ms. Heyer is one of the most entertaining writers I have ever read.

Why Shoot The Butler? starts off a little differently than the two previous mysteries. The murder is committed right at the beginning and we know nothing of the character of the person that was murdered. Frank Ambereley, who is a barrister, is on his way to visit his uncle in the country side when he spots a car with a woman standing beside it. Being a curious person, Frank soon discovers that the car holds a dead body of an unidentified man and the lady claims to know nothing of the occurred death. Mr. Amberely soon finds out the identity of both the victim and the mysterious girl. As it turns out Frank had already been a tremendous help to the local police before and is now unofficially employed by them to help solve the mystery of the butler’s murder, as it is certain that he was murdered. Shirley Brown, the mysterious girl met on that first night, claims to be innocent even thought all the clues point toward her being the killer. Frank believes her innocence and actually goes as far as allowing himself to feel more than just the need to bring the real murderer to justice.

Having written that Why Shoot The Butler? was entertaining enough to keep my interest in reading more of Ms. Heyer’s work, I have to say that it was a little weaker than the other two books and if you are just thinking to try this author out, you’re probably better off putting this one away for a later time. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as her previous novels. I did. I loved the character of Frank Amberley. He is as arrogant and as outspoken as you can find them. His wordy sparring with the inspector and the sergeant of the local police is always hilarious. Frank does not waste a moment to let everyone around him know how truly superior he is and to expose all the vices of the small countryside residents. He enjoys annoying his uncle and stirring anger in the inspector but despite all that I couldn’t help but like the guy. I also liked that the romance element, which is always present in Heyer’s books, was much more developed in Why Shoot The Butler? and occupied a central stage right beside the mystery of the murder itself. All and all, the book was still a delightful and pleasant read with plenty of clever dialogue and witty humor, which are Heyer’s trademarks. I just think that action-wise it was on a slow side and if you are a fan of cozy mysteries but haven’t read any of Georgette Heyer’s yet, you will like Why Shoot The Butler? but there’s a danger that it will not make a die-hard fan of hers.


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Special Thanks to Danielle J. from Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of this book.

If you want to find out more, please visit The Definitive Fan Website.