NOVEL: Envious Casca
AUTHOR: Georgette Heyer
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1941
It seems seasonally appropriate to write about this murder mystery in December; it takes place in an English country house, with a group of fractious relatives gathered together to celebrate Christmas (chiefly by getting into loud arguments with each other, as they are, for the most part, exceedingly ill-tempered). When the cantankerous head of the family is found dead in a locked room, the house party is, more than ever, at each other’s throats. Among others, there’s a merry but annoying uncle, a sullen nephew, a gold-digging fiancé, an aspiring avant garde playwright, and a shady business partner. Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard does his best to investigate the crime, while the quarrelsome suspects all seem to have a distant relationship with the truth.
Georgette Heyer is most famous for her historical romance novels (in fact, she essentially established the genre, as well as the “Regency romance” subgenre), but her contemporary “thrillers” are also entertaining, and quite clever. I find there to be something rather comforting in detective fiction of this classic type: the mystery is investigated and resolved, the villain punished, and the moral order again restored. Good reading if you happen to be snowbound, or if you need a little escape from your own difficult relatives.
RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Three Whistles
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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.
Laura can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org