Thursday, March 10, 2016

No Wind of Blame

No Wind of Blame
by Georgette Heyer

(Edited) Blurb:
Tragedy befalls the Carter family following an eventful visit from a Russian prince and a scandalous blackmail letter. The murder of Wally Carter is a bewildering mystery worthy of the analytical Inspector Hemingway's unnerving talent for solving fiendish problems.

My Reaction:
Two stars seems too low... Let's be generous and round up to three.

Of Heyer's mysteries that I've read so far, this was not a stand-out.  A serviceable way to pass some time, but nothing amazing or even particularly interesting.  Apart from Vicky (and sometimes Ermyntrude, who reminded me a bit of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice), I found most of the characters fairly dull.  It didn't help that I managed to guess the identity of the murderer and at least part of the "method" early on, which left too much time for waiting for the police and detectives to catch on to the obvious parts and figure out the particulars that I hadn't been able to solve on my own.

I definitely would not recommend this as a starting point for this author's mysteries, but if you're a devoted Heyer mystery fan, it might be worth a read.  Just don't expect too much of it, and you won't be disappointed.  (Exceedingly faint praise, I know...)

--  "Not but what I don't care for trousers myself.  Time and again when I've seen some fat creature waddling about in them, I've thought to myself, well, my girl, if you could see your own bottom you'd soon change into a skirt."  

--  "The way the Palings' shoot has been allowed to deteriorate since Fanshawe's death is a scandal.  You'll find the birds as wild as be-damned-- if you see any birds at all."  I'll be the first to admit that I know precious little about English "shooting", but apparently I know even less than I thought.  Are (or were) the birds usually not wild, then, in a well-kept "shoot"?  Because if they're somewhat domesticated, that seems even less "sporting" than I'd imagined... 

--  The character who was "under God Control" was an odd specimen.  

--  When the Prince suggests that a young man seems dull, Vicky responds (seriously), "Oh no!  He writes poetry.  Not the rhyming sort, either."

--  Early in the book, there are a few incidents of crassness the likes of which I don't remember coming across in Heyer's other mysteries.  Possibly I'm just being forgetful... Nothing R-rated, but references to sordid behavior that has taken place well off the page.  If nothing else, it makes it hard to care anything at all about the murder victim.  (Which is often the case in these books, of course.  If we had to care much about the victim, we wouldn't be able to focus on and enjoy the mystery and the other characters.)

--  One character (an especially dull chatterbox) is described as having "a slightly depressing habit of making yards of crochet-lace in her spare time" (which yielded the crochet tablecloth she was using to cover a table).  As someone who enjoys crocheting-- including the occasional lace doily-- I found this rather harsh.  What, may I ask, is so depressing about crocheting lace in one's spare time?  Pray, what should a person do in her spare time, to avoid being "slightly depressing"?  ~huff~ 

--  Maybe the author had a personal dislike of all textile handcrafts.  "Mary sat down with a tea-cloth which she was embroidering, an occupation, which, however meritorious in itself, the Prince found depressing."

--  Ermyntrude learns that Scotland Yard is to be called in... "Am I never to be left in peace?  Haven't I had enough to worry me?  I wish to God Wally had never been shot!"  (And I laughed and laughed.)