Mysterious Heyer

I haven’t read a great deal of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries.  To be frank, the couple I read before were not encouraging.  Nevertheless, Behold, Here’s Poison sounded like a good time.  I’m taking time out at about the two thirds mark to say: IT IS.  Thus far my favorite sentence is: “He was dressed with the most finicking care, and nothing could have been more symphonic than the blend of his shirt with his silk socks and his expensive tie.”  Note the use of the word “finicking,” which wordpress is currently claiming is not a word (they also have a problem with “wordpress”).  I have for a long time now believed that “finick” should be able to expand and be used in more ways than “finicky.”  This, right here, is evidence my instinct is correct.  For this alone, this book would be delightful.

However, it also has more to recommend it.  There was a fairly meager start where we meet the staff first (not to figure prominently again, it seems), and the victim is already dead.  Then it picks up, and Georgette Heyer is running with it.  There’s less manners and social conventions than normal, but the twists and turns of the detective’s struggle to find answers are actually unexpected.  Even though there’s a lot less urgency than I’ve found in most murder mysteries, Heyer still contrives to make her insinuations and subtle hints pop up in your head with explanation marks:  Well, it wouldn’t have been her!  SUSPICIOUS!!  So, he’s shady!  And so on.  Unlike an Agatha Christie novel where you feel you’re just trying to keep up with Poirot, or making sure to latch onto everything important, Behold, Here’s Poison is a languid read.  You make more of the connections and predictions yourself without feeling you’re constantly behind.  The detective’s there to do the grunt work and draw out clues-the real stuff thus far remains the reader’s.  (I have my money on X turning out to be innocent in order to become romantically involved with Y.)  When I finish I may draw up an official review, but as I’m enjoying it right now, I wanted a finicking ramble about the experience of it.  After all, a good mystery story really is mostly about the middle, as that is where the suspense, and the draw lies.  The ending is obviously essential, but it doesn’t last as long, and so even a disappointing reveal can’t keep something from being a good read once (providing it’s merely disappointing, not awful).

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