Death in the Stocks
Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer SOURCEBOOKS Landmark Sourcebooks Landmark Mystery & Thrillers Pub Date 01 Feb 2019
Georgette Heyer’s first Inspector Hannasdye mystery, Death in the Stocks, demonstrates her unique wit and exemplifies her characteristic blend of comedy, romance and murder. Originally published in the 1930’s, Death in the Stocks has an energetic charm frequently found in screwball comedies. There isn’t much action- most occurs “off screen”. Heyer’s primary focus is dialogue - fast paced, witty and frequently cutting. This is extremely clear in Death in the Stocks, where the Vereker’s dash ideas, accusations and commentary back and forth at top speed. Much of the dialogue is funny, but it can come to grate on the nerves. This may lessen the novel’s appeal to readers more interested in plot and readers less familiar with the style. The “Bright Young Things” (the Vereker’s, Violet, Rudolph ..) are entirely self-centered, focused on their wants and readily turning on each other in a half-joking half-calculating way. The disconnect visible in all characters with the exception of Giles Carrington, family lawyer, an Inspector Hannasdye, can be quite jarring. But this was not uncommon for the 1930s, as escapist films and books focused on the glamorous high life. One item I found unusual- although Death in the Stocks is ostensibly the first Inspector Hannasdye novel, he is not the one to solve the mystery.
When Arnold Vereker is found in the stocks, murdered, there are few clues to indicate the culprit. Both Antonia and Kenneth Vereker, the victim’s half siblings, readily admit they despised their older brother and guardian. Both stood to gain, and neither has a satisfactory alibi. Also, neither are willing to share information with the police, allowing sheer stubbornness to make the Inspector more suspicious. Their cousin Giles, also their lawyer, is willing to help, but first he has to discover what parts of his cousins’ ramblings are true and important.
Death in the Stocks will not appeal to everyone, but it is an excellent example of its type. If you enjoy 1930s screwball comedies or hefty doses of witty banter, you are likely to enjoy Georgette Heyer’s Death in the Stocks.
4 / 5
I received a copy of Death in the Stocks from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
A Moonlit Night, a Sleeping Village, and an Unaccountable Murder... In the dead of the night, a man in an evening dress is found murdered, locked in the stocks on the village green. Unfortunately for Superintendent Hannasyde, the deceased is Andrew Vereker, a man hated by nearly everyone, especially his odd and unhelpful family members. The Verekers are as eccentric as they are corrupt, and it will take all Hannasyde's skill at detection to determine who's telling the truth, and who is pointing him in the wrong direction. The question is: who in this family is clever enough to get away with murder? "Miss Heyer's characters act and speak with an ease and conviction that is refreshing as it is rare in the ordinary mystery novel."-Times Literary Supplement