Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Footsteps in the Dark

Footsteps in the Dark, by Georgette Heyer

Publisher's Blurb:
What begins as an adventure soon becomes a nightmare...

Locals claim it is haunted and refuse to put a single toe past the front door, but to siblings Peter, Celia, and Margaret, the Priory is nothing more than a rundown estate inherited from their late uncle-and the perfect setting for a much-needed holiday. But when a murder victim is discovered in the drafty Priory halls, the once unconcerned trio begins to fear that the ghostly rumors are true and they are not alone after all! With a killer on the loose, will they find themselves the next victims of a supernatural predator, or will they uncover a far more corporeal culprit?

My Reaction:
Looking for a very light, mildly spooky mystery with dashes of humor and a little romance on the side?   Also a fan of "Britain between the wars"?  Give this a try, but don't expect the greatest mystery (or romance, for that matter) of all time.

It felt like it took me forever to read this.  Partly that's because I've been busy with other things and haven't spent much time reading.  However, I may have been less inspired than usual to spend time reading because this book felt quite predictable, in some respects.  The humorous moments were by far the best part of the book; unfortunately, I could've done with more of them.

Though this wasn't quite so strong as I'd hoped, it was still fairly cozy, and I'll read more of Heyer's mysteries.  (Apparently this was her first mystery, so maybe she hadn't quite worked up to full speed, yet.)  I'll also certainly try some of her regency romances (which are her chief claim to fame).

Specifics (including SPOILERS):
--The extremely predictable bits?  There's the infinitely unsurprising identity of the monk, for one thing.  (It was unintentionally hilarious to see the characters all so shocked when it had been painfully obvious for most of the book.)  Also, as soon as the mysterious M.S. says that the police aren't going to get him, you pretty well know he's involved in law enforcement himself.  When the young lady remarks to him that she hates policemen, you merely nod your head knowingly.

--Someone says it seems ridiculous to have a fire in July, and another person replies that nothing is ridiculous with the English climate.  Wow.  A fire in July?  In the northern hemisphere?  I can't even imagine needing a fire in July, here... Well, maybe if you were caught and drenched in an afternoon thunderstorm.  That can make you chilly... But in that case, you'd need a towel and dry clothes more than the warmth of a fire.

--I know, it was a different time, but sometimes the women in this book are awfully weak.

--"Margaret - I can't tell you what I think of your pluck, and your sportsmanship."  Ha!  Oh, swoon!  The hero complimenting the heroine on her pluck and sportsmanship!  I go all wobbly at the knees!  ;o)

--"Don't marry him, Margaret.  We can't have a policeman in the family.  What about our wireless license?  He's bound to find out that it's expired."

--"Margaret went up to change into the frock she had worn on the previous evening.  With a praiseworthy attention to detail she made her hair look tousled, and wiped all the powder off her face.  As Charles remarked, in a newly engaged girl this deed almost amounted to heroism."  (HA!)

--The "unmasking" scene felt very Scooby-Doo, as did the "sardonic scorn" of the guilty party.  All that was missing was a reference to "meddling kids".

--I found it funny that Heyer had the Monk tell Margaret that he wouldn't have left her to starve.  Why?  So that the book is less horrifying?  Are we supposed to think to ourselves that he's not such a bad chap, after all?  ;o)  Well, sure, so he's already killed a couple men.  What of that?  He wouldn't have left a young lady to starve.  What a guy!