Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: Behold, Here's Poison

Title: Behold, Here's Poison

Author: Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Sourcebooks

# of Pages: 336

Rating: 8/10

Product Description
Experience Georgette Heyer's sparkling dialogue in one of her most popular mysteries.
It's no ordinary morning at the Poplars - the master is found dead in his bed and it turns out that his high blood pressure was not the cause of death. Heyer uses her attention to detail and brilliant characterizations to concoct a baffling crime for which every single member of the quarrelsome family has a motive, and none, of course, has an alibi. Heyer's sparkling dialogue is a master class in British wit, sarcasm and the intricacies of life above and below stairs.
Meet the Matthews - before the next one dies...
It's no ordinary morning at the Poplars - the master is found dead in his bed, and it seems his high blood pressure was not the cause. When an autopsy reveals a sinister poison, it's up to the quietly resourceful Inspector Hannasyde to catch the murderer in time to spare the next victim. But every single member of the quarrelsome Matthews family has a motive and none, of course, has an alibi.

I hate this particular cover of the novel. It has absolutely nothing to do with the novel. Why is there a woman a weird mask drinking a small glass of wine? I just finished reading the book and I can assure everyone that there are no masks in the book at all. And I have no idea who the woman on the cover is. She looks a bit possessed.

I am certainly not unbiased when it comes to Georgette Heyer. I adore her. She, probably even more so than Jane Austen, turned me onto my Georgian and Regency era obsesssion. I have read almost all of her historical novels, but this is only my second mystery. It is almost jarring to me to read her mysteries as they take place in the 20th century, and characters have cars and say such things as, "Oh, yeah." It makes me shudder- Heyer's characters, in my opinion, belong firmly to the era of curricles and post-chaises and phrases such as, "I knew he was a right one!"

But I digress. My favorite part of Heyer's novels is her sparkling wit. Her characters and the situations in which they are involved are hilarious and mostly unforgettable. (Well, they are the first time round. She does have a propensity to replay the same plots.) This same wit is definitely present in Behold, Here's Poison. There are hilarious lines in the book that just don't make sense taken out of context (hence no favorite line above), but will make you laugh out loud. I don't find any of the characters very likeable at all, but the interplay between them is fantastic. Randall, above and beyond, takes the cake. He is perfectly drawn- like the villain in a spy flick, he has the best lines. I highly recommend the book just to laugh out loud at his lines.

As far as the mystery goes- well, I don't know. It was a bit helter-skelter at the end, and even further muddled by a very shoddy (and, in my opinion, extremely ill-advised) romance between my beloved Randall and a very dull-witted young woman. And I don't really think it was possible to figure out the "bad person' until the very end. However, I've never been one to read a mystery for the... well, the mystery part. I like the tension and the character development. I can't say that many of the characters =developed= in this book; all of them finished the story with the same personality they had at the start. But the dynamics of being the end of a line of landed gentry living in a country home on the cusp of WWII are great, and I think Heyer shines in that regard. If you read this book for the mystery, you may be disappointed, but if you read it for the dialogue and the character interplay, you'll be rewarded.

Note: Females in the book are not portrayed in a very positive manner at all. Just something to keep in mind :-)


  1. Whilst I get what you are saying about this cover, I think as a whole the mysteries have been rereleased with a series of eyecatching and fitting covers.

    I recently read another of these mysteries and I liked it for the writing, but found some of the characterisation a bit dated.

  2. I really wanna give Heyer a go, she is everywhere. But sadly not in my library

  3. I love Georgette Heyer. Her mysteries are a bit jarring since they take place in a more modern era but the characters have some of the best exchanges of words.

  4. I have only read one book by Heyer, but recently a few blogs I read have featured book by her, and I have been more curious. I do have The Grand Sophy on my shelf, and have also added a few others to my wish list. I hope to get into them soon!

  5. I totally agree about the cover - didn't fit the story and she does look possessed!

    The women were quite over the top, but Randall cracked me up!

    Great review!


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