Behold, Here’s Poison

Behold, Here’s Poison

By: Georgette Heyer

Bantam Books 1973

A historical mystery review

 Behold, Here’s Poison takes readers right to the heart of every murder investigation: family tension.  The Matthews family has lost its tyrannical head.  Heyer lightly leads the way from the bereaved relatives’ realization that they are really all right with Gregory Matthews’ absence to their dawning comprehension that death makes everyone else far more annoying.  It also tends to make neighbors and outside relations both hideously present and far more loathsome.

However painful it clearly is for the family, however, Heyer’s readers are clear to watch the sparring matches, the questionable actions, and the police investigation.  Two bereaved sisters, a theatrical sister-in-law, the artistic nephew, the modern niece, and the “amiable snake” comprise the Matthews’ family.  The local doctor, family friends, and an extra relation or two also appear to pay respects and add to the emotional broth.  Heyer allows the reader to feel a step ahead through most of the book.  The subtle hints and varied remarks-from acid to asinine-guide readers through the twisting plot without being carried along by a cryptic detective.  The detective’s there largely to do the grunt work and draw out clues.  If high suspense or violent actions are your taste in murder mysteries, this is not the book for you.  For keeping investigation skills in practice or enjoying a leisurely look into others’ foibles and trouble, Behold, Here’s Poison is excellent.

Is it possible to see the plot ends before they come together?  Basically yes, but there is certainly enough to discover and piece together to make the journey interesting.  Is it the most satisfying of endings for a mystery novel?  The divulged facts themselves aren’t the most gratifying, but the way Heyer handles her reveal makes up for it.  For a comfortable, rainy day read, or when you want a mystery but know you’ll need to live through breaks, Behold, Here’s Poison offers a good read.

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