NOTE: This review is slightly edited/enhanced/betterised from the original posted on Goodreads. All reviews from now on will be betterised.
Georgette Heyer is just amazing. Incredibly prolific authors tend to fall into two categories: universally adored, and marvelled at for the work volume but not much else. Like Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer is in the first category.
The first Georgette Heyer book I read was The Talisman Ring, which shot me into severe love with the way her characters spoke to and treated each other. Seriously, I was on the second page when I had to shove the book at my husband and say, “THIS. THIS.”
But we’re not here to talk about The Talisman Ring. We’re here about General Thingy and The Unfinished Clue. It’s not as humorous or witty, but it definitely does not lack the Heyer tang.
One thing that Agatha Christie has taught me is that I like mysteries with unpleasant victims. The General is a blustering brat of a man, and though his death isn’t a relief, there was no immediately clear view of just who murdered him. The harried second wife? The emotionally excitable son? The list covered just about everyone.
Including the bizarre Mexican dancer, Lola de Silva. Some context is necessary. I’m half-Hispanic. Third generation American from Mexico on my mum’s side. And I thought this character was equal parts hilarious and obnoxious. She’s so very clearly a British idea of a Mexican, that I thought she was a sort of shout-out to Lola Montez, who was Irish. So I saw no reason at all to be offended.
Sometimes the pace slows down too much, particularly after the murder. That’s always a risk with this style of mystery–house guests accused of murder, real DIs don’t solve mysteries overnight. It didn’t bother me. The book is not overly long, and the slow pace is not a neon sign blinking PADDING PADDING PADDING. And Dinah was funny. I wish there had been a bit more of her, since she’s basically the bright young thing who is smarter than the average
bear girl. But I guess there was technically enough. Her romance with Inspector Harding was cute and unobtrusive.
When I first realised how the ending was going to go down, my eyebrow went up, but then (spoiler, highlight to read) they read the confession letter, and I could kind of understand why the murderer committed suicide. The only reason it bothered me was that I have seen it in quite a few mysteries. It has to be done well or I get twitchy. I still don’t know if I think this one was done well or not.
This is only the second Heyer book I have read, and it’s the first murder mystery one, so I can’t really recommend it among the greater body of her work. I liked it, but it’s not one I would gush about like The Talisman Ring. Seriously, go read The Talisman Ring.