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Behold, Here's Poison    by Georgette Heyer order for
Behold, Here's Poison
by Georgette Heyer
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

The appeal of cozies has always included well-drawn characters as well as a crime-puzzle. As befits a writer justly renowned for characterization, Georgette Heyer delivers with a vengeance in Behold, Here's Poison.

The Poplars might be a roomy establishment, but the inhabitants sometimes find each other very trying. Gregory Matthews, indisputable master of his own house, has assembled under his roof his spinster sister Harriet, and his widowed sister-in-law Zoe and her grown children Guy and Stella. Frequent visitors include his married sister Gertrude and her husband and grown children.

A large family, the Matthews, but not a harmonious clan. Harriet and Zoe are frequently at loggerheads over how to run the household. The Master is threatening to send Guy to South America to earn a living and has vowed to disinherit Stella if she continues her romance with the despised Dr. Fielding. The only normal and welcome - visitors are the genial Mr. and Mrs. Rumbold.

When old Mr. Matthews dies of what is assumed to be a heart attack, the initial relief of most of the household is dissipated by Aunt Gertrude's stubborn assertion that her unfortunate brother's death was not a natural one. Alas, an autopsy reveals that Aunt Gertrude was correct: Gregory was poisoned.

The unhappy atmosphere of mistrust is not lightened by the arrival of the heir, Randall Matthews. Randall seems to delight in ruffling everyone's feathers and is immune to coldness and outright incivility. Despite the suspicious behaviour of the suspects (due to nervousness), Inspector Hannasyde's investigation begins to shine a light elsewhere, much to the family's relief. However, they are once again on the hot spot when Aunt Harriet also dies of poison.

The highly capable Inspector Hannasyde finds this a most perplexing case indeed, and Randall one of the most incalculable characters he has ever encountered.

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