Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Unfinished Clue

Welcome to today's stop on the Georgette Heyer Classic Circuit!

  A country house.  Guests arriving for the weekend.  A host whom almost everyone dislikes for one reason or another.  An ideal set-up for a classic 1930s English murder mystery. 
  General Sir Arthur Billington Smith and his young wife, Fay, are entertaining a group of relatives and acquaintances at their home in the English countryside.  Among the guests are Fay's sister, Dinah Fawcett, the General's son Geoffrey and his fiance, Lola de Silva, the General's nephew Francis, Basil and Camilla Halliday, and Stephen Guest, who appears to have feelings for the young Mrs. Billington-Smith.  Several local neighbors join in the party at various times, including the local Vicar and his wife, and Mrs. Twining.
  The General is not happy with just about everyone in his house, especially his son for bringing a woman of "questionable" character into his home and his own wife for extending the invitation in the first place.  After a morning obligatory socializing with some of his guests, the General retreats to his study to work on his household accounts.  Several hours later, he is found there slumped over his desk -- murdered.
  Everyone is shocked at this violent event, but nobody is particularly upset at the General's death.  In fact, suspicion falls upon just about everyone in attendance at the house as each person had a reason to see the man dead.  A key piece of evidence at the scene - the unfinished clue of the title - is the beginning a word the General started before he died.
 The Unfinished Clue had all of the key pieces of a classic murder mystery - an isolated setting, many suspects with motive and opportunity to commit the crime, and interesting characters that leave the reader (or at least this reader) guessing almost to the end who the murderer might be.  It was missing a strong investigator, in my opinion; Inspector Harding of Scotland Yard certainly did his job and solved the crime but he seemed like a background character. 
 This was my first Georgette Heyer novel, and I did enjoy it.  It reminded me a little bit of Agatha Christie's mysteries, which I loved; and I think given the opportunity I'd like to read more of Heyer's mysteries.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed your first Heyer! She is one of my favorite authors, but I've only really dipped into her mysteries in recent years. I haven't read this one yet, but I Have Plans. I hope you read more Heyer!

  2. >It was missing a strong investigator

    That was exactly my complaint of Envious Casca. Seems weird to have a mystery without a central detective.

    Interesting review.

  3. This sounds a lot like the film, Gosford Park ! Great review.

  4. No strong investigator to swoon over? Hmm? Anyway, I have yet to read a Heyer mystery and will consider this one after reading your helpful review.

  5. My first thought was "Sounds like a Christie mystery"... I guess you thought the same thing! I want to read a Heyer mystery, but still undecided which one. Maybe by the end of the Circuit tour, I'll have made my mind.

  6. I've just finished my first Heyer mystery, but I didn't miss the strong investigator. It gave the book a different flavour than those of her contemporaries and let the suspects shine. But maybe it depends on the particular mystery.

  7. I agree completely -- I noticed that in my Heyer mystery (Behold, here's poison). And I noticed that the reader was privy to conversations between all the suspects AND the police (is that omniscent third person? So bad at that sort of thing). Anyway, usually you get suspects or police but not both, at least in my memory. I still enjoyed it though, but I think Christie's better.

  8. I think I need to read a mystery next. I wasn't impressed with her romance. I could do without the strong investigator because sometimes they seem so unrealistic, in my opinion.

  9. Thanks everyone for the comments!
    I think I prefer Agatha Christie's mysteries just because of Hercule Poirot. And perhaps that is why I missed that type of character in The Unfinished Clue.
    I did try reading one of Heyer's historical novels but I just couldn't get through it, and I am not a fan of the romance genre, but I will search out more of her mysteries.

  10. I am looking forward to reading me some mysteries with the upcoming tour. Sounds like Heyer is fun as well, in the mystery department.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)