A BLUNT INSTRUMENT
#4 Inspectors Hannasyde Mystery
by Georgette Heyer
Formats available: Paperback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 4.2.19| 352 pages
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
E-arc provided by publisher through Net Galley for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Who would kill the perfect gentleman?
When Ernest Fletcher is found bludgeoned to death in his study, everyone is shocked and mystified: Ernest was well liked and respected, so who would have a motive for killing him?
Superintendent Hannasyde, with consummate skill, uncovers one dirty little secret after another, and with them, a host of people who all have reasons for wanting Fletcher dead. Then, a second murder is committed, giving a grotesque twist to a very unusual case, and Hannasyde realizes he’s up against a killer on a mission…https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40891261-a-blunt-instrument
I came to the work of Georgette Heyer rather recently and was taken by her sparkling and fun regency romances, but I pursued her books into other historical eras and, mostly lately, into other genres such as her murder mysteries. I find that they have the same sparkling dialogue and touch of madcap humor that her regencies possess which is a further delight.
Most of her mysteries take place post-WWI at an English country house and feature either Superintendent Hannasyde or Hemingway as the Scotland Yard detective sent to solve the case. A Blunt Instrument is no exception. It is the fourth and last of the Hannasyde books with Hemingway acting as his sergeant.
A Blunt Instrument highlights a colorful circle of characters from laconic and witty Neville, the deceased’s nephew who stands to inherit, to the witless and often lachrymose neighbor, Mrs. Helen North; the deceased’s most recent flirtation. Poor Hannasyde and Hemingway are saddled with a Jeremiah like Bible-quoting local constable and several would-be suspects who have their own reasons for throwing shade on the investigation of a man who was supposedly too well-liked to have been a victim.
I enjoyed this one for its historical, classical feel. It was a crime in a time before our later crime-scene tech advancements so the investigation work was tramping around going at witnesses and shifting for hints in their statements. In this one, the timeline was the sticking point because witness statements were contradictory. Though, that said, as a reader, I doubt I was meant to believe Helen’s statements (yes, she had three, at least, by the end).
Helen is too obvious for words and I had the strongest urge to pitch a bucket of ice water at her every time she showed up in a scene. However, she does turn out to be a necessary figure in the story. She loves her husband, but finds a solid, hardworking man who doesn’t go in for gambling or lots of cocktail parties not enough so gets into trouble to stir him up and gets into an intrigue to make him act jealous. John chooses to keep his peace and wait her out because he actually loves her despite of her antics. He is even willing to frame himself to protect her. Her sister, Sally, is much more level-headed and gets the lamentable task of verbally shaking her into some sense, but Sally does enjoy being right in the thick of a murder investigation because she writes mysteries. I had a good time whenever Neville appeared in a scene. He leads people on a merry chase, but he’s never really obstructive and will tell the truth unlike Helen and her husband. But, the character who is the real corker is Constable Glass. His religion runs to the hell and brimstone sort and he speaks entirely in Biblical aphorisms and not the helpful sort. He drove everyone to Bedlam had had the sergeant, Neville, and Sally scrambling for their own Biblical quotes to shut him up. I know he will annoy the Dickens out of some, but he was a buffoon and I could only laugh most of the time.
I figured this one out before the big reveal and even got the motive even though the author did her level best to distract with all the characters and the nonsense going on. I confess that it was because of reading other mysteries that I cottoned to the truth and not because I’m all that brilliant.
All and all, I’m delighted that Sourcebooks is reprinting these old Heyer detective stories for a new generation to discover them and enjoy the antics and wit of her work. Those who enjoy old-style country house mysteries will be the target audience for this books/series.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark via Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.