Longtime romance lovers will remember the name of author Georgette Heyer. Living from 1902-1974, Heyer not only wrote romances, but also mysteries and historical fiction to a total of 56 books. She is known as the Queen of Regency romance, the same era as Jane Austen's books. Heyer's works are famously clever and refreshing. Whether romantic or murderous, her books ring true with the same exasperating and entertaining characters we still encounter every day. I recently read one of her mysteries, Envious Casca. This particular volume is second in the Inspector Hemingway Mysteries, set during Christmas at a rich country estate, in the early 1940's, when the book was written. The family members and associated friends come together in spite of their better judgement, most of them aware that their host, old curmudgeon Nathaniel Herriard, really despises parties and Christmas and most of them, too.
Of course, no one, least of all the reader, is terribly surprised when Uncle Nat is murdered, but all, even Scotland Yard, are mystified by the locked room. Yes, this is an infamous "locked room" mystery--how did the perpetrator accomplish his heinous crime? Along the way, we get well-acquainted with the wry Inspector Hemingway and his Sergeant, the caustically funny nephew and niece Stephen and Paula, who have expectations of their uncle, and Uncle Joe and Aunt Maud. A few other characters and important props tease us with their significance--or lack thereof.
Uncle Joe is everyone's nightmare relative, arranging parties for anti-social people, decorating the house despite a lack of festive guests, cajoling the unwilling. His character is perfectly drawn and totally annoying--so much so that one reader's favorite line is "He was like a clumsy, well-meaning St. Bernard puppy, dropped among a set of people who were not fond of dogs."
For the classic mystery lover, this one is perfect! Also available in large print.