Classic Crime

Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer was born in Wimbledon, London on the 16th August 1902. She was best known for her romance fiction but also ventured into the mystery/crime scene for twelve of her published works.

Heyer first wrote a novel called The Black Moth for her brother, Boris. This novel was to be published by Constable in 1921.

In 1925 Heyer married Ronald Rougier a mining engineer. They were to have one son, Richard in 1932. Just before the wedding, Heyer’s father passed away and the burden fell to her to finance her brother’s education. Heyer enjoyed relative success but she wasn’t read by a larger audience until the publication of These Old Shades in 1926.

Georgette Heyer first ventured into crime writing with the publication of her novel Footsteps in the Dark in 1932. She was to continue writing her historical romance novels throughout. Her crime books are still well recognised and include such marvellous pieces as Penhallow and Envious Casca. Her last crime novel was Detection Unlimited published in 1953.

After a long period of ill health, Georgette Heyer died on 4th July 1974.

Review: A Blunt Instrument

Ernest Fletcher was a man of means who was well liked and highly respected, especially by women. So it was a great mystery why anyone would wish to enter his study and smash his head with a blunt instrument.

It was by sheer luck that a passing policeman, who had seen a suspicious character leaving the premises by a side garden gate, decided to investigate the house. When he found Mr. Fletcher dead there the police felt able to narrow down the time of death to within minutes. So who would have been bold enough to do such a deed in such a short space of time? Was the perpetrator the man who the policeman had seen running from the scene - or was it someone even closer to the dead man?

A Blunt Instrument was the seventh mystery written by this famous author and it is wonderful to see Arrow Books re-print all twelve Heyer crime novels. All twelve have been given sumptuous new covers which reflect perfectly the time and fashion of the period in which they were written.

Due to the fact that Georgette Heyer was primarily a historical romance novelist, she has a much better grasp of the dynamics between the characters which populate her books. In this novel, the murder is committed early on in the book and much of the novel is taken up with the aftershock felt by the surrounding characters connected with Ernest Fletcher. At a time when crime writers were being heavily criticised for compromising the integrity of their characters for the sake of a good plot, Heyer comes up with a novel containing three dimensional people with genuine feelings who are all caught up in a tragedy. This is writing that deals not only with the crime, but with the different ways people react to what is going on around them. Te style predates what Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George are doing today by about forty years.

The ultimate solution is one which has been done since, but it ties up this neat little puzzle perfectly. Out of all the books I have read of Heyer’s, my particular favourite is Behold, Here’s Poison which, like A Blunt Instrument, also includes Superintendent Hannasyde and his sidekick, Hemmingway (who was to later appear in his own cases).

This is another little gem which definitely shouldn’t be forgotten.

Reviewed by: C.S.

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