15 October 2009

Book Review: Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer

Behold, Here’s Poison When a servant finds Gregory Matthews dead in his bed, it’s believed to be natural causes. And natural causes it would have remained, if his dragonish sister Gertrude Lupton hadn’t declared it impossible that there could have been a weak heart in her family, and demanded a post-mortem. When it transpires that Gregory was poisoned, there’s no shortage of suspects for Inspector Hannasyde and Sergeant Hemingway to investigate. His siblings, siblings-in-law, niece, nephews, and neighbour all stood to benefit by his death, either materially or just by getting rid of an unpleasant nuisance. So to, perhaps, did the mysterious "Mr Hyde"....

For some inexplicable reason I was surprised when the victim’s first appearance was as a corpse. It’s happened in numerous books that I’ve read, but still, in a classic-style whodunit I was rather expecting to be able to play spot-the-victim and study everyone’s opportunity before being presented with a body. Still. It certainly got things off to a dramatic start, even if it did prevent Gregory from being as well-defined as the other characters. Although there’s well over a century between them, it was impossible not to think of Heyer’s Regency characters - this group was just as eccentric as any in her romances, and while not all of them were likeable they were a lot of fun to read about. Especially Randall Matthews, who took great delight in always doing or saying precisely the most objectionable thing in any situation. It could be highly entertaining to have a Randall in one’s family - so long as his barbs weren’t directed against oneself.

I felt very pleased with myself for identifying the means by which the poison was delivered pages before the detectives did, which compensated for my utter inability to identify the person who used it. The motive was almost too much of a surprise, but it did fit in with what had been uncovered about Gregory Matthews’s character. Not sure, though, about the eventual romantic pairing....

Rating: B


  1. I completely agree with you on the romantic pairing. So random and odd and out of nowhere. I didn't think the characters in this book were likable at all, but the conversation and insults were excellent :-) NOT a fan of the cover at all, though.

  2. All of the Heyer mysteries that I've read so far seem to have strange romances in them. I wonder if she felt she had to write them in to retain her romance readers ...

  3. Georgete Heyer is such fun! Great review.


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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776