Select one of the keywords
Why Shoot a Butler?    by Georgette Heyer order for
Why Shoot a Butler?
by Georgette Heyer
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2009 (1933)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Frank Amberley, barrister and amateur sleuth, is lost en route to his uncle's country house, thanks to his cousin Felicity's shortcut. His mood is not improved when he encounters a car on the side of the road, a strangely still driver behind the wheel, and a tense young woman who rudely rejects his offer to help. His suspicions aroused, the acute Mr. Amberley notices several points, the most pressing one that the driver appears to be dead.

He reports the corpse, omitting any mention of the mysterious Miss Brown, wondering at his own lapse.

The dead man was the butler at Norton Manor, recently inherited by the nephew of the deceased owner. Joan, Basil Fountain's stepsister, is engaged to an old friend of Amberley, who is worried by Joan's increasing unease in the tense atmosphere at the Manor. A soft-footed valet named Collins is much too evident for everyone's peace of mine. Somehow Shirley Brown is also caught up in this tangled and dangerous game.

Amberley is skeptical of the abilities of the local police, who see none of the complications he noticed immediately. Aware of his underlings' shortcomings, the Chief Constable is actually grateful that Amberley is taking an interest, despite his high-handed manner. Shirley, on the other hand, is highly indignant at his arrogant meddling but will eventually have reason to be grateful.

In short, Why Shoot a Butler? demonstrates once again the acclaimed Queen of Regency's deftness in juggling a large cast of well-defined characters and a tangled plot-web. Anyone who has enjoyed one of Heyer's charming Regency romances will find this mystery of interest. And mystery fans who like a well-written puzzle will find one graced with a richly delineated cast and setting.

Written in 1933, this mystery is definitely a period piece. Historical mysteries are currently being well received; Heyer's novel is the real thing, as it was written in the thirties. Sourcebooks adds to the ambience with a cover illustration from The Advertising Archives.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews