Murder Comes Home For Christmas
The halls of Lexham Manor were decked with holly, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and the old Scrooge who owned the estate was stabbed in the upstairs bedroom. For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard 'twas the season to find whodunit. All six holiday guests had a motive to commit murder. But not one of them could have entered the locked room to do it. And Hemingway soon discovered that this time the proof wasn't in the pudding. It was a turkey of a play, a ham performer, and a plum of an inheritance...
Although I consider myself a Georgette Heyer fan the truth is that, till now, I had only read some of her Regencies and Georgian novels. This was my first mystery by her and presents a totally different style. It's a contemporary (it was first published in 1941) whodunit!
Several members of the Herriard family and their friends meet at an english country house to celebrate Christmas. While they all attend, no one seems particularly fond of the others or happy to be spending time in their company. The head-of-the family, and owner of the country house, is a tyrannical old man who doesn't seem to get along with his family members. In fact when he is found dead in a locked room it seems many of them had a reason for murder. Enter Inspector Hemingway and a few fellow policemen to interrogate everyone and solve the case.
Despite loving mysteries, and most of the other Heyer's I've read I have to confess that this was not an easy read. I had some trouble at first remembering all the characters and their relationship with each other and the dead man. Then the characters were disagreeable and quarrelsome, the servants were equally disagreeable and uninteresting and I actually had to force myself to continue reading.
I am glad that I did though because in the end I rather liked the way how Inspector Hemingway found the culprit. I am sorry though that we didn't get to spend more time with him. I like to have a main character that I may like and follow through the story and he was the prime candidate, as the one investigating, but we never get more than a glimpse of his past life.
The final twist with the book connection was quite funny though, it felt the answer was there all along and we were just too blind to see it. And that not everyone was as silly as it seemed.
I do plan to read other Heyer mysteries in the future but I do hope they will be easier reads than this one and with more interesting stories.