Detection Unlimited, by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer wrote some memorably creative mystery novels, and some memorably terrible ones. She also wrote Detection Unlimited, which I can only assume she threw together to meet an urgent deadline.

When local solicitor Sampson Warrenby is found shot in his garden, everyone in the village has a theory about who murdered him. Warrenby was widely disliked, and several of his neighbors, from his overly pious niece to the quiet couple living on the outskirts of town, had reason to want him gone. Confronted with an overabundance of motive, Inspector Hemingway—Heyer's most affable detective—has to figure out which of his many suspects had the means and opportunity.

Even at her worst, Heyer was a competent writer. Everything in this book makes sense, the dialogue shows her usual flair, and there's a pleasant, if extremely low-key, romance. Unfortunately, she has already featured most of these characters in various guises elsewhere, and those earlier examples were far more interesting: the sanctimonious hypocrite, the sharp-tongued young man, the briskly competent spinster aunt. Detection Unlimited, alas, only features a handful of truly memorable creations: a prize-winning family of Pekingese dogs, all of whom have names starting with U. While I enjoyed the few glimpses Heyer offered us Ultima Ulysses and his offspring, they weren't enough to justify the $15 cover price for this otherwise pedestrian mystery. Even Heyer completists should look for this sucker used, or better yet, at their local library.
Posted by: Julianka


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