Review of Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer (Inspector Hannasyde #4) (1938)

Bottom line: An easy-going murder mystery set in 1930s London. Worth a try if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh and want something new (especially if you can borrow it). I didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually enjoy a Christie or Marsh, but it was still a pleasant enough read.

Rating: Recommended IF –  it’s free and/or you’re in the mood for a light mystery to pass the time.

Blurb:

Who would kill the perfect gentleman?

When Ernest Fletcher is found bludgeoned to death in his study, everyone is shocked and mystified: Ernest was well liked and respected, so who would have a motive for killing him?

Superintendent Hannasyde, with consummate skill, uncovers one dirty little secret after another, and with them, a host of people who all have reasons for wanting Fletcher dead. Then, a second murder is committed, giving a grotesque twist to a very unusual case, and Hannasyde realizes he’s up against a killer on a mission…

Review:

This is the first Georgette Heyer book that I’ve read. I borrowed it as an e-book from my library (You can get library books without ever even getting off the couch! Best. Thing. Ever.) after reading some reviews that compared her to Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy Sayers.  While it’s certainly in the same style (more so of Christie and Marsh), I don’t think Heyer is in the same league quality-wise.

I didn’t really enjoy her characters (except maybe Neville and Sergeant Hemmingway) – I found them irritating rather than quirky,  some of the dialogue seemed forced and clichéd, and I couldn’t get excited about Hannasyde, her detective. One of my favorite elements of the book was the murder itself – who committed it, why, and how was cleverly done, but the plot itself of how the detectives and side characters discover the truth was lacking.

That being said, it’s not bad as a “read it and forget it” mystery. There are enough twists and turns that it keeps your brain moderately occupied, you are never really worried that anyone sympathetic is going to end up having committed the crime, and it’s not intense – I was able to put it down and come back to it later (a rare thing for me with mysteries) and I didn’t feel the need to rush out immediately and buy the next book in the series. Sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in a book.

Available: E-book, hardback and paperback available all over the web, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes, at prices ranging from about $7 – $12.

Side Note: Georgette Heyer wrote historical romances (think Jane Austen where the characters have more spunk) as well as mysteries – so if you choose to check out her work, make sure you know which brand of Heyer you’re getting!

What did you think? Did you like the book?

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